The Benefits of Hiring Individuals with Disabilities

What’s the third largest demographic segment in the United States? The answer might surprise you; it is people with disabilities. The size of this population—13 percent —equals the African Americans (13%) and surpasses the Asian Americans (6%) population.

However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities hovers at or around 12.6% nationally, while for people without disabilities, it is at 5.2%.

Ohio employers may wish to foster a more inclusive workforce by hiring someone with a disability due to our country’s current talent shortage. Here are the benefits and the things you can and cannot ask while conducting interviews.

Employer Actions

Review company policies

This is an opportune time to review your company policies to ensure they convey a commitment to workplace culture inclusive of people with disabilities.

Train supervisors

You can conduct training for supervisors to ensure they understand their role in fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture.  Such training may include a review of relevant policies, including the process for providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

Participate in Disability Mentoring

Disability Mentoring promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring.

Foster Inclusive Internship Programs

Check on your upcoming internship opportunities and make sure they are open to all qualified candidates, including those with disabilities.

Benefits of Hiring Individuals with Disabilities

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion, hiring people with disabilities is suitable for the bottom line. The report has case studies from the following companies: AMC, Ernst & Young, Florida Blue, Manpower, Rockwell Collins, Sprint, Nextel Corporation, Starbucks, UPS, Health Care Service Corporation, IBM, Lowe’s, Merck, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman Corporation, OfficeMax, Inc., The Hartford and Wells Fargo.

According to the Job Accommodations Network annual report, Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact:

  • 59% said the accommodations needed by employers for people with disabilities cost them absolutely nothing.  These accommodations included:
    • Flexible scheduling
    • allowances in dress code rules or
    • allowing somebody to sit or stand when another positioning is customary
  • 36% experienced a one-time cost of $500 or less.

These accommodations resulted in the following benefits:

  • retaining valuable employees
  • improving productivity and morale and
  • reducing workers’ compensation

Employers can receive tax credits. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program provides federal tax credits for Ohio employers hiring people with disabilities. Credits range from $1,200 to $9,600 per employee, depending on their salary and the number of hours the employee works per week.

The Dos and Don’ts When Interviewing a Person with Disabilities

According to the law, you may not:

  • Ask whether an applicant has a disability.
  • Inquire about an applicant’s workers’ compensation history.
  • Ask how the applicant became disabled.
  • Require a medical examination before you have made a job offer.
  • Refuse to hire an applicant with a disability because the applicant’s disability prevents the performance of the marginal functions of the job.

However, you may:

  • Administer a physical agility test, as long as you give the same test to all similarly situated applicants regardless of disability.
  • Describe or demonstrate a particular job function and ask whether the applicant can perform that function with reasonable accommodations.
  • Require a medical examination after you have given a conditional offer of employment but before the employee starts working.
  • Base an employment offer pending the medical examination results, provided that you subject all entering employees in the same category to such an examination.
  • Require a pre-employment drug test.

SACS Consulting and Investigative Services, Inc. Can Help Craft the Right Policy

When it comes to putting together the right Human Resources policy, look to our experts in the areas of FMLA and ADA!