New Zealanders with disabilities discriminated against in employment

Asia-Pacific, August 13 2013

NEW ZEALAND: CCS Disability Action said there was clear evidence of discrimination against people with disabilities in access to employment.

Despite this New Zealand still does not collect quarterly data on the unemployment rate amongst people with disabilities, unlike the United Kingdom and the United States.

David Matthews, CCS Disability Action Chief Executive, said: “In a survey of employers last year, 78 per cent said they believed people with disabilities were discriminated against in employment.

“People with disabilities are overrepresented on benefits and in unemployment. In 2011, 35 per cent of people on a main benefit claimed a disability allowance. Only 45 per cent of people with disabilities were in the labour force compared to 77 per cent of people without disabilities.”

He added: “Without accurate data, how do we know whether we are actually addressing the issue? When the government starts collecting regular data, I will know it is serious.”

Disability discrimination is also the most common employment complaint received by the Human Rights Commission, said Mr Matthews.

“The evidence is there and this is an issue that affects us all. When people with disabilities are shut out from employment, we all lose. Employment can not only make a real difference to an individual’s life, but is also key to our prosperity as a society. Discriminating against a whole group of our society, really hurts our job market.

Mr Matthews said that addressing the discrimination was a complicated issue and required the serious attention of the Government and the country.

“In the same survey of employers, nearly all employers believed that disabled people deserved a fair go and that their low rate of employment was an issue.

“These positive attitudes, however, seemed to have no effect on their willingness to hire employees with disabilities. This is far deeper than just an awareness issue. People also need accessible transport and workplaces. Support services need to flexible enough to support someone at work. Employers need to be willing to really give disabled job candidates a fair go. There are no quick fixes.”

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