10 November 2003
The department of labour has launched technical guidelines on employing people with disabilities, aimed at giving practical assistance to employers, employees, trade unions and the disabled on how to implement non-discriminatory measures such as affirmative action.
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, speaking at the launch in Johannesburg recently, said his department has all the tools and skills needed to help employers accommodate all workers, whether disabled or not, as well as to enable employees to discharge their responsibilities without any hindrances.
“The challenge to employ and advance people with disabilities, both in government and the private sector, is still there and is continuous,” Mdladlana said.
Mdladlana said the public sector has up to 2005 to ensure that its staff compliment comprises at least 2 percent of people with disabilities, who must also occupy all occupational levels and categories.
He said that in terms of the government’s skills development strategy, at least 4 percent of learnerships in the labour market must be occupied by disabled people by 2005.
Mdladlana said that while many employers do not have policies or programmes aimed at accommodating people with disabilities, some employers were doing their best to accommodate people with disabilities.
“These technical guidelines not only modernise our lives but also create challenges in employment and skills development in the workplace,” he said.
Mzolisi ka Toni, of Disabled People of South Africa, said his organisation hoped it would “no longer receive phone calls from employers demanding a definition of disability”.
Toni said the disabled find it difficult to secure employment, despite the fact that the Employment Equity Act and the Disability Code outlaw discrimination based on ability. But he expressed hope that the guidelines would address this situation.