Employers and job seekers are often unclear as to their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some employers look upon the ADA with a little fear –- fear of litigation, fear that accommodating someone with a disability costs too much money, or fear that accommodations will mean more work for the employer or their staff. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that the ADA is a law for “those people”. In reality, the ADA is for all of us. According to the Social Security Administration, one in four of today’s twenty-year olds will become disabled before they retire. The ADA is a landmark civil rights law that provides for equal treatment of all people with a disability.
As a federal contractor, you have specific responsibilities related to the employment of individuals with disabilities. As per the amended Section 503 of The Rehabilitation Act, the goal for disability hiring is 7% across all job groups.
Preparation is key and there are steps you can take in advance. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare:
Many employers are finding success with an often overlooked talent pool — candidates with disabilities. Forward-looking employers are developing proactive sourcing plans to create a recruiting pipeline that includes candidates with disabilities.
Many businesses that employ individuals with disabilities report reduced employee turnover, increased employee loyalty, and increased morale and productivity of other employees. According to Maryland.gov “Strong human capital strategies, which include recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees with disabilities, are pivotal to maintaining competitive advantage.”
On October 7, 1:00 PM Eastern, America’s Job Exchange hosted its first (very successful) Twitter chat! AJE partnered with Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and The Carroll Center to bring valuable information to employers on important components of disability hiring. We had great participation from many organizations and along with our partners got some very insightful feedback and helpful tips.
For companies with federal contracts, OFCCP would like to see employees with disabilities totaling 7% across all job groups. For successful recruitment and retention, such companies need effective outreach and recruitment measures that would allow them to reach this goal. Below are examples of three companies who have made a big difference in the lives of candidates with autism.
Mary Ellen Smith, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of worldwide operations, in a blog post early this year (April 3, 2015), announced the company’s pilot program to hire candidates with autism for full time positions at the firm’s Redmond offices in Washington. For this initiative, Microsoft has partnered with Specialisterne, a company that helps candidates with autism find meaningful employment. Microsoft’s pilot scheme will initially recruit 10 people with autism. If successful, the scheme could extend to more vacancies worldwide.
Disclosing a disability when in the midst of a job search is a complex decision. While some disabilities are clearly visible, others are not. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against prospective job applicants with a disability, statistics show that the percentage of disabled people who are unemployed in spite of the law, has not decreased significantly. The revisions to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that went into effect March 24, 2014, holds federal contractors accountable for 7% utilization goal for candidates with disabilities. This is a noble goal federal contractor will need to aspire to. This should give candidates with disabilities enormous confidence about increased job opportunities in the near and distant future. Another component of the new regulations is that it allows employers to ask candidates to voluntarily disclose their disabilities by using an OFCCP approved form. Here are some tips about disclosing a disability: