By Cian Molloy - 11 December, 2017
Less than a third of all working-age adults with a disability are in employment, which is less than half the rate for those who are not disabled, according to the advocacy group Social Justice Ireland.
The director of the group Fr Seán Healy says that without specific government intervention, there is little chance of an increase in the number of disabled people with jobs.
At present, 20% of disabled people of working age have never had a job, and people with a disability are 70% as likely to enter employment as a person who is not in any way disabled. So it’s no surprise to find that the long-term unemployment rate is high among the disabled, with 35% of those with a disability being without a job for more than four years.
Economic and social analyst Eamon Murphy said: “Four out of five people with a disability acquire that disability while they are of working age. This has the effect of plunging many into poverty.”
Notably, those people with disabilities who are in employment tend to be better educated than those who are not in work. “Retaining their human capital, experience and skills is of benefit to society, as well as to the individuals themselves and their families,” said Murphy, who says action is required urgently to limit this loss.
Disabled people should be allowed to retain their entitlement to a Free Travel Pass for five years after taking up employment and there should also be an increase in the Medical Card earnings disregard for people on Disability Allowance, says Social Justice Ireland. Fr Healy pointed out, “Both these moves were recommended by a report commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, yet no provision was made for either in Budget 2018.”
Other issues highlighted in SJI’s latest employment monitor include the rise of ‘bogus self-employment’, where employers hire workers on part-time freelance contracts to avoid having to pay work related benefits such as PRSI and holiday pay; and the significant difference between the national minimum wage and what it actually costs to achieve a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in Ireland today.