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The Business Case

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that 18.5% of the Australian population has a disability - that's over four million people. Australia is currently facing very real skills shortages across a wide range of industries, with many businesses struggling to fill vacancies. With this in mind, it makes sense to consider all the options when looking at recruitment, including people with disability. There are thousands of talented and skilled individuals with disability ready and willing to work, who just need an opportunity to prove themselves.

Increasingly, employers understand that employing people with disability makes good business sense. Employing people with disability is likely to bring new skills as well as bring new and valuable perspectives to an organisation.

By considering people with disability as potential candidates, businesses benefit by increasing the size of the talent pool from which they recruit, making it easier to find the best person for the job.

Becoming confident about employing people with disability will mean that an organisation will be well placed to:

  • Attract and retain the best candidates from a wider talent pool
  • Retain other employees who have valuable experience and knowledge should they acquire a disability
  • Reduce hiring and training costs
  • Improve productivity through innovation and technology
  • Reduce sick leave and early 'medical' retirements
  • Strengthen workplace morale
  • Customise products and services to increase profitability
  • Attract a broader customer base and increase customer loyalty
  • Reduce workplace incidents
  • Reduce the risk of claims of unlawful discrimination against the organisation
  • Leverage tax benefits (NSW only)

There is a strong business case, as well as an ethical case, for recruiting and retaining people with disability.

With one in five people in Australia having a disability, many clients and customers of Australian businesses will also be people with disability.

Employees with disability can help businesses understand what customers or clients with disability may need, which can give businesses an edge over competitors.

Having a workforce that reflects the diversity of the wider community can lead to greater customer loyalty and satisfaction, positively impacting an organisation's bottom line.

Benefits of Employing People with Disability

The benefits of employing people with disability are immediate and measureable. Studies in Australia1 and overseas have found that employees with disability have fewer unscheduled absences than employees without disability, have increased tenure, as well as performance and productivity on par with co-workers without disability. A review of research entitled 'Are People with Disability at Risk at Work'2 found that workers with disability are no more likely to be injured at work than other employees.

On average, employing people with disability does not cost any more than employing people without disability. Additionally, financial assistance with the cost of making reasonable adjustments is available through the Australian Government-funded Employment Assistance Fund. For further details refer to the following website: Employment Services/Employer_Support/Pages/EAF.aspx

Employ Outside the Box

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)'s report, Employ Outside the Box: The rewards of a diverse workforce examines the benefits of diversifying workforces.

The report explains that employing outside the box is not about businesses acting as charities or taking over government's role in supporting our most disadvantaged. Instead it is about businesses meeting their skills and labour needs by engaging people who they may not have previously considered but who are willing and able to do the job.

1 Graffam, J., Shinkfield, A., Smith,K. &Plolzin, U. (2002), Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation (17), 251 - 263

2 Are People with Disability at Risk at work? A Review of the Evidence, Australian Safety & Compensation Council, March 2007.