Disability, Work and Inclusion in Ireland

Engaging and Supporting Employers

image of Disability, Work and Inclusion in Ireland

Across OECD countries, one in seven working-age adults identifies as having a disability. Many are excluded from meaningful work and have low levels of income and active social engagement. Becoming sick or disabled often leads people to leave the labour market even if they maintain work capacity and willingness to work. Governments and employers can help create an environment that prevents sickness and disability, promotes return-to-work and enables persons with disabilities to thrive in their job. The COVID-19 pandemic and its toll on physical and mental health has made the creation of an enabling environment more important than ever. This report proposes policy recommendations to the Irish government to improve the participation of persons with disabilities. Ireland has one of the highest disability employment gaps in OECD countries. Disability employment policy has seen significant improvement in the past decade but the reforms have not produced the desired results. This report shows that engaging employers is critically important to getting and keeping persons with disabilities in work. It also highlights the importance of further structural change and accessible and sufficiently resourced public employment and adult learning services to create a labour market that works for all – including for persons with disabilities.


Assessment and recommendations

The disability employment gap is exceptionally large in Ireland and there is a considerable risk that the COVID-19 crisis will further increase this gap. Ireland is aware of the need for action to increase employment participation and thus also the incomes of persons with disabilities. In the course of the implementation of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy, a number of new supports were introduced for both employers and employees but the take-up of all these programmes and measures is stubbornly low. Further reform will require leadership and a whole-of-government approach, and must include measures to spur and facilitate the engagement of employers on the one hand, and measures to further improve the skills and work incentives of persons with disabilities on the other.


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