GRTU – Malta Chamber for SMEs supports all calls and initiatives towards social integration of persons with disability and it is pleased to note an increased uptake of employment of persons with disability by the private sector.
Announced in the Budget 2015 Speech, the re-invigoration of a dormant legislation of having a minimum of 2% of employees being persons with
disability for businesses with at least 20 employees, has led to an encouraging increase in employment of registered disabled persons (RDPs). Data made available during an MCESD meeting by the ETC Chairman shows that the private sector, above the 20 employee threshold, is employing over 350 RDPs.
GRTU believes that the private sector is showing its willingness to support this initiative not just because it is legally obliged to do so but because it also values its return. There are in fact 700 enterprises that even though not obliged by law, still employ people with disability and this does not include the employment of people with disabilities that are not registered in official national registers and are therefore not taken into consideration by the law.
The employment of persons with disability should not be seen as a mere statistical exercise or push employers into an easy way out of paying a contribution instead. It should be a hand-in-hand approach with employers to look into the needs of the specific business operation and how those persons with disability who are looking at participating in the labour market are matched through a process.
GRTU has over the years welcomed initiatives and incentives that encourage employers to find the necessary support to reach out and bridge persons with disability into the active labour market.GRTU often acts as a point for outreach towards bridging employers and businesses to policy implementation and initiatives.
The implementation of this legislation could have been handled far better. GRTU was in fact disappointed that ETC did not feel the need to consult with social partners before reactivating a law that was introduced in 1969 and never implemented. GRTU expected ETC to place greater emphasis on the several incentives already available to positively encourage employment and assist them directly in finding an individual that matched their employment needs.
Sending out of invoices to employers without proper consultation and hand-holding for implementation would only result in counter-productive exercise to the message of social inclusion. This would portray the need to integrate persons with disability as a burden or a form of bill whereas the spirit should be one of understanding business needs and matching the capabilities and potential of persons with disability with specific job roles, just as in any other case.
Having said this, GRTU feels that ETC has now recognised its pitfalls in the implementation process and looks forward towards a renewed approach which recognises issues faced by the private sector and which has fine-tuned its methods to better support employers. As a result GRTU welcomes ETC’s decision to waive the contributions due by employers should they become compliant with the law.
GRTU believes that much more can be done in terms of close cooperation and partnership between the public and private sector when it comes to inclusion of persons with disability. Employing a person with disability should never become a burden on the enterprise and the Government should do its utmost through a tailor-made approach, hand-holding and the use of support schemes to facilitate the process.