The National Disability Authority (NDA) today published the 2008 annual report on compliance with Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 on the employment of people with disabilities in the public service. The Act provides that public bodies take, in so far as practicable, all reasonable measures to promote and support the employment of persons with disabilities. It also provides for a framework for monitoring the employment target for people with disabilities, currently set at 3%, in public bodies through monitoring committees in Government Departments. The NDA has an overall monitoring and reporting role under the Act. 

Commenting on the report the Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, Mr. John Moloney, T.D., said "I welcome the report published by the NDA today on the employment of people with disabilities in the public service in 2008. I am pleased that the NDA have noted an increase in the number and proportion of people with disabilities employed in the public sector. The public service is committed to ensuring that a positive working environment exists for people with disabilities which enables them to have fulfilling careers and gives them the opportunity to use their talents in serving the public. 

This report lays equal importance on the attainment by public bodies of the numerical target and the presence of measures to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities. I am very impressed by the wide ranging examples of good practice showcased in the report which demonstrate how public sector organisations have built up a significant track record in promoting employment of people with disabilities, aiding job retention and fostering a positive work environment where diversity is respected and which ensures that employees have equality of opportunity. It is also noteworthy that the report has identified a clear demonstrable link between public bodies engaging in positive actions to promote the employment of people with disabilities and the successful achievement of the 3% target. "

The report provides a detailed analysis of compliance by public bodies in meeting the statutory target and highlights the many positive action measures implemented to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities in the public service. The NDA reports that full achievement of the target in Government Departments is underpinned by the Civil Service Code of Practice for the Employment of People with Disabilities. The appointment of designated Disability Liaison Officers/Equality Officers in Departments and public bodies, who work with people with disabilities is credited in the report as aiding the implementation of successful measures to promote the employment of people with disabilities. The report also notes that a number of public bodies offered work experience placements to people with disabilities, an example of which is the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) project which aims to give up to 6 months quality work experience to graduates with disabilities. This programme gives practical effect to Government and Civil Service policy on improving the employment prospects for people with disabilities and 28 graduates with disabilities have been successful in obtaining a paid placement within the Civil Service since 2007. In addition, following an open recruitment competition at Executive Officer grade confined to people with disabilities a number of people were assigned to Government Departments and Offices in 2008.

The Minister welcomed the findings by the NDA of the positive trends that have emerged in the 2008 report:

· All Government Departments achieved or exceeded the target and reported 3.9% of their employees had a disability as defined in the Act;
· Government Departments and other public bodies combined reported 2.7% of their employees had a disability as defined in the Act;
· Public bodies reported 2.5% of their employees had a disability as defined in the Act;
· Local authorities reported 3.5% of their employees had a disability as defined in the Act and 85% of local authority organisations achieved or exceeded the target;
· Organisations that had carried out an access audit on some or all of their properties (74.5% of the public bodies) were 6 times more likely to have met or exceeded the target;
· The compliance rate for organisations that had taken on a person/persons with a disability on work experience (18% of the public bodies) was almost twice that of those organisations that did not; and
· Organisations that had a written policy on employing people with disabilities or that were subject to a code of practice (82% of the public bodies) were twice as likely to have met or exceeded the target.
 
The Minister noted the NDA’s assessment that a systematic approach to supporting employees with disabilities brings a return in terms of higher numbers of employees with disabilities in employment. The Minister also noted that meeting the target was especially challenging for the very many small organisations; about one third of those reporting had less than 50 employees. 

The NDA reports that it is undertaking a process of consultation with relevant Ministers and monitoring committees to request further information from public bodies in order to make a determination on whether those bodies are complying with Part 5 of the Act. Allowing for the statutory timeframes for provision of such information by public bodies, and the assessments and consultation to be made thereafter, the NDA expect that assessments on compliance and recommendations will be set out in a report to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The Minister concluded: "I would like to extend my appreciation to the NDA for the commitment and support displayed by them in assisting the public sector in promoting and supporting the employment of people with disabilities. I also wish to commend the monitoring committees for their role in this process. This report is one which the public service as a whole can build on with the aim of making a real and tangible difference to the quality of life of people with disabilities by continuing to promote and support their employment." 

The report is available on the NDA website www.nda.ie

22 December 2009

Notes for Editors

Section 50 of the Disability Act 2005

The NDA submitted to the Minister on 26 November 2009 the third statutory report on the compliance by the public service with the employment target of people with disabilities in accordance with subsection 15(6) of the National Disability Authority Act 1999, as amended by subsection 50(2) of the Act.

Definition of disability under the Disability Act 2005

The Act defines disability as: Disability, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation, in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.