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Jordan Labour Watch urges access of people with disabilities to labour market

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Dec 02,2017 - Last updated at Dec 02,2017

AMMAN — The Jordan Labour Watch at the Phenix Centre for Economics and Information Studies on Saturday issued a statement on the employment of persons with disabilities, calling for the facilitation of their participation in the labour market.

The position paper, released in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Amman, commemorates the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated every year on December 3, aiming to promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities, and to increase awareness of their situation in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Ahmad Awad, director of the Phenix Centre, told The Jordan Times that “what Phenix is advocating for is an increase in the efforts of governmental offices and institutions to provide facilitations and tools for people with disabilities to access the labour market”, stressing that “there are policies in place, but they are not being implemented”.

In this regard, the statement called for the activation of Article 13 of the Labour Law, which dictates that the workforce of companies with 50 employees or more should include at least 2 per cent of employees with disabilities, as long as the nature of the job allows it.

Furthermore, the paper called for the amendment of Article 4 of the Law for the Welfare of Disabled Persons in order to ensure its effective application, guaranteeing the provision of a facilitating working environment for employees with disabilities.

“Despite the provisions of the Labour Law and the Law for the Welfare of Disabled Persons, the low employment rates among people with disabilities whether in the public or the private sector shows us that they are not being implemented,” said Awad, pointing out that “there are gaps in the legal texts and regulations that allow both public and private organisations to avoid the employment of people with disabilities”.

The paper also noted the “poor” working conditions to which employees with disabilities are subjected, pointing out “the low quality of the jobs offered, the low wages, the general insecurity and the low confidence showed by their employers regardless of their productivity being the same as that of their non-disabled peers”.

“The lack of an adequate infrastructure at work has also weakened the employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and many of them suffer from the lack of social security and health insurance, since they are usually employed in the informal economic sectors,” the statement said.

Muhannad Azzeh, secretary general of the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities (HCD), told The Jordan Times that “the employers are preventing the applicants suffering from disabilities from enjoying their right to work because there is this stereotyped imaged about them not being able to do their job”, stressing that “if an employee with disability cannot perform at the same level as his or her peers, that is because the working environment is not accessible”.

“The law No. 20 of 2017 on the rights of people with disability includes progressive provisions in this matter,” Azzeh continued, noting that a new Equal Opportunity Committee was created under the new law to mediate between employers and employees with disabilities. 

“But, in order to overcome this problem, we shall address businessman and employers in their own language, raising awareness on the many benefits of hiring people with disabilities both at the company and the country levels,” the official added. 

Regarding the costs of making the work spaces accessible for people with disabilities, Azzeh stated that “most companies believe that accommodating the workplace for their disabled employees comes at a high cost, but this is not the reality”.

“However, it is equally important to educate the employees about their rights, and let them know the ways in which they can demand accessibility in the workplace in accordance with the law and their freedom of choice,” Azzeh concluded.

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