Disabilities are of various kinds. In a broad sense, most of us are born and live with one or more disabilities. Contrary to the generally perceived association of disability with only the physical aspects of a person, mental, professional, legal and social disabilities are taken seriously in the workplaces of some countries.
However, from a legislative point of view, a disability has a clear definition. Various countries and organizations have their own definitions of disability. For example, the World Health Organization defines disability thus:
“an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disability is the interaction between individuals with a health condition (e.g., cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and depression) and personal and environmental factors (e.g., negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social supports)”.
Employees with disabilities face problems that are peculiar to their condition. They could have difficulties reaching office on time safely. They could have issues concerning access to basic amenities like lifts, toilets, etc. Over the years, the increase in the level of awareness about disabilities has led to legislations that have resulted in the need to formulate laws concerning disability. Most countries have laws concerning disability.
A disability management program is one that is aimed at implementing actions that facilitate a workplace that is amenable to the needs of the disabled employees. It suggests a series of well-defined, coordinated actions that make the work environment friendly towards employees with various disabilities, physical or emotional.
A disability management program is a legal, comprehensive framework that takes into consideration the needs of the employee, the organization and the family of the disabled employee.
The importance of disability management at the workplace
Disability management is a program that organizations implement in organizations with the intention of meeting many objectives:
- The most important of these is that the person with the disability should lead a life of dignity. Giving attention to the unique needs of disabled employees facilitates greater productivity from them and instils a sense of accomplishment and self-worth in such employees
- Making the workplace friendly to the needs of disabled employees raises the reputation of the organization and gives it the image of being a caring one and as an implementer of corporate social responsibility
- It enhances the trustworthiness of the organization in the eyes of the disabled employees and their families, and with other stakeholders such as the investors, the government, and the general public
- Such employees will be able to work and earn more, leading to enhanced savings over longer periods of time
Elements of a disability management program
A disability management program should be a well-rounded one that the organization implements in consultation with the disabled and other employees, the families of the disabled employees, their doctors, and the management
It involves understanding the emotional and physical needs and challenges of the disabled employees and taking steps to mitigate them, such as offering leave benefits, transportation facilities, designing the workplace in such a way that it becomes conducive to them, and so on.
Employers who implement an effective and legally compliant disability program are shown to experience greater productivity. Such organizations give employees with disabilities fewer reasons to abstain from work, thus gaining in productivity by making their workplace favorable to disabled employees. This means that the employers themselves have a lot to gain from implementing an employee disability program.