On 27 January, the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) adopted a report by Member of European Parliament (MEP) Katrin Langensiepen to foster equal treatment of people with disabilities in the workplace in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The report is scheduled for debate and adoption in the European Parliament plenary in March 2021.
The report entitled “Establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, taking into account the UNCRPD” received 47 votes in favour, 1 against and 4 abstentions. It was drawn up by MEP Langensiepen who extensively consulted with 9 organisations representing people with disabilities, including Autism-Europe and the European Disability Forum, as well as four human rights groups, the European Network of Equality Bodies and two academic disability experts.
The report exposes how the European Union member states are still failing to meet their obligation to guarantee a right to accessible employment for people with disabilities. It demands: the phasing out of sheltered workshops not in line with the UNCRPD, EU guidelines on reasonable accommodation, diversity quotas, Universal Design, intersectionality consideration, mutual recognition of disability status, and data collection disaggregated by gender, age, types of disability, ethnic origin and sexual orientation.
MEP Langensiepen, who is a German vice chair of the EMPL committee and a co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup Disabilities, remarked upon the adoption:
“I know from my own experience how discriminatory it can be for people with disabilities to find work. This is not just related to the world of work, but to the fundamental problem that many people with disabilities are segregated from an early age and are not visible”.
MEP Ádám Kósa, a Hungarian shadow rapporteur, member of the EMPL committee and co-chair of the Disability Intergroup, welcomed that the report calls on the EU institutions and Member States to build on the expertise of organisations of people with disabilities (DPOs) and to actively involve them in disability decisions. He pointed out:
“Since I became a MEP in 2009, I have been in constant consultation with Hungarian DPOs because I am convinced that they themselves know best what exactly they need”.