Declare your disability status when seeking employment

Monday, April 20, 2009

Johannesburg - Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has urged persons with disabilities to declare their disability status when seeking employment.

"Lack of disclosure, whether from a need for privacy or a fear for discrimination are some of the challenges, which can not be ignored when talk about employment and sustainable empowerment of persons with disabilities.

"This result in inaccurate data on employment targets, low retention of employees and a lack of reasonable accommodation," the minister said.

The minister was speaking on Monday during the National Disability Machinery (NDM) Indaba and the launch of the South African Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She further appealed to all human resource senior managers to ensure effective implementation of reasonable accommodation provision and to be open for training on this important tool for equality.

"Sensitisation efforts should inform persons with disabilities about their rights in the workplace should outline the benefits of disclosure and should assist HR senior managers to provide reasonable accommodation to their empowered and increasingly productive employees," she said.

She further noted that the 2 percent target for government to employ persons with disabilities, including in senior positions, has not been met.

However, the minister acknowledged government's commitment to improve access to information and services, adding that the integration of service provision at an early age and where possible, reduces the stigma and abuse, which disabled people are often subjected to.

"You will recall that South Africa was one of the few countries who have an HIV and AIDS National Strategy Programme Document 2002-2005 written in Braille, we continue to insist that newly constructed buildings are accessible to mobility challenged people and must insist on policies and programmes to particularly address the needs of women and children," the minister said.

She emphasised that the convention should be considered to be as important as any other Human Rights Convention and should be used for practical guidance when addressing remaining inequalities.

"The Convention itself should not only be known to be an international law but to be a vehicle through which the rights of persons with disabilities in South Africa can be protected promoted and implemented.

"Crime and violence prevention strategies should take the specific needs and vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities into consideration - ensuring that clear programmes are developed and popularized in the sector to prevent crime, violence and abuse," she said.

She challenged the NDM to work in collaboration with government in translating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into a well conceptualised implementation plan to make sure they do not fail the children, women, youth and all persons with disabilities by omitting what they obliged to do.

In 2007, South Africa signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol.