If you’re struggling to fill open positions within your hourly workforce, you’re not alone. More than 7.3 million jobs are going unfilled, according to the latest BLS jobs report. As a result of the labor shortage, some forward-thinking employers are now recruiting from a talent pool that’s often overlooked: workers with disabilities.
It’s a smart idea, one that can result in an all-around win/win. But before employers go all in, they should verify that they’re in absolute compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in all its complexities. Beyond having robust ADA compliance policies, employers must be willing and able to customize jobs and training programs accordingly, making job accommodations in new and creative ways.
Employment by the Numbers
In 2018, 19.1% of the population of those with disabilities were employed, compared to 65.9% of the population without disabilities. That employment rate is up from 18.7% in 2017, according to the BLS, a trend that is expected to continue as the labor shortage intensifies.
Workers with disabilities tend to be concentrated in certain occupations, including service, production, and transportation. They are more likely to work part-time than their non-disabled counterparts and less likely to work in management or professional occupations.
Furthermore, the unemployment rate for candidates with disabilities was 8% in 2018, more than twice the rate (3.7%) of non-disabled candidates. For employers that are open to broadening their labor pool, the opportunities are intriguing.
Benefits of Hiring Workers with Disabilities
Studies indicate that workers with disabilities have many of the qualities that employers prize, including good attendance and a positive attitude. In addition, their retention rate is higher—in some cases, nearly double—than that of non-disabled workers.
Furthermore, one seminal study by DuPont revealed that workers with disabilities practice better workplace safety than their non-disabled peers—something that might be significant in safety-conscious industries like manufacturing. In addition, they tend to be innovators, perhaps a result of the problem-solving they engage in regularly to navigate their world.
In addition to adding value and diversity to the workforce, hiring workers with disabilities offers potential tax advantages, too. These include The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit up to $9,600 per employee and the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction, which can equal up to $15,000 per year. (The latter is available to employers who remove architectural and transportation barriers that impede the mobility of people with disabilities.)
Brush Up on Your ADA Compliance First
No employer can afford to be shaky on ADA compliance, but especially if you are actively targeting candidates with disabilities. Before you begin a recruiting campaign, it’s important to ensure that:
- Your company has a strong written policy describing your commitment to accommodating qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. It should also detail how employees can request accommodations, while prohibiting retaliation against workers exercising their rights.
- You have a step-by-step process in place for handling emerging accommodations, collecting/reviewing medical documentation, and conferring interactively the employees—as well as documenting every step of the process.
- Your job descriptions support ADA compliance by identifying the essential job functions workers must be able to perform, with or without accommodations. These are important to the hiring process and also for performance reviews.
- All you managers are on board and well trained with regards to your ADA policy. (More than one ADA lawsuit has been filed because of something a supervisor said or didn’t say.)
How to Recruit Qualified Candidates with Disabilities
Not all jobs lend themselves easily to accommodations. But for those that do, these are effective ways to connect with candidates with disabilities:
- Post your job openings on disability-focused job boards, such as abilityjobs.com and disabledperson.com.
- Ensure your job application and website exists in a format that’s accessible to people with disabilities.
- Using disability inclusion statements in your job postings and in the Careers section of your website.
- Participate in local disability-centric job fairs.
- Check out the federal Workforce Recruitment Program, which connects college students and recent high school graduates with disabilities to employers. It’s a great resource for entry-level workers.
Hiring is a particularly challenging right now, due to the growing labor shortage. Maintaining labor compliance is always a challenge, too—one that falls largely to HR. Employers need to be both diligent and creative in their thinking.
If your HR and payroll software doesn’t support your changing objectives and methods, it’s time to find one that does. At EPAY, our flexible HCM system is designed to help you conquer your shifting workforce challenges, while simplifying everyday HR tasks. Give us a quick two minutes, and we’ll show you how we can help you recruit, onboard, manage and pay your workforce wisely in a changing world.