On the occasion of the ‘Conference on Integration of People with Disabilities into the Labour Market’ organised by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) on 20th September 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic, European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, announced the Disability Employment Package – one of seven flagship initiatives from the European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 (ESRPD). The package constitutes a series of measures aiming to support the labour inclusion of persons with disabilities in the EU.
According to the package presented by Commissoner. Dalli, the measures are:
- “Strengthening the capacities of employment and integration services”: This should be achieved through guiding EU Member States to improve accessibility and inclusiveness of employment services.
- “Promoting hiring perspectives through affirmative action and combating stereotypes”: To be achieved through actions to facilitate hiring persons with disabilities by involving employers.
- “Ensuring reasonable accommodation at work”: This should be achieved through guidelines for employers.
- “Preventing disabilities associated with chronic diseases”: To be achieve through a manual for managing chronic diseases and preventing risk of acquiring disabilities through manual issued by European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
- “Securing vocational rehabilitation schemes in case of sickness or accidents”: This should be achieved through guidelines.
- “Exploring quality jobs in sheltered employment and pathways to the open labour market”: This should be achieved through a study on improving employment for persons with disabilities through alternative employment models.
These measures echo Autism-Europe’s demands to foster the employment of autistic people in line with the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), including through positive actions. AE highlighted its demands in the consultation process for the ESRPD and in various advocacy actions. Autism-Europe is planning to publish a report on autistic people in employment detailing their demands and enriching it with good practices from across Europe.
In line with the European Disability Forum, AE recommends binding measures for the employment of people with disabilities and funding for enforcement. Furthermore, the gender perspective and intersectionality needs to be emphasized. Other relevant issues include tackling the financial difficulties faced by disabled people when being employed they lose their disability allowance while facing more expenses (so called „benefit trap“). Member States should also ensure mutual recognition of disability status to facilitate mobility related to employment and education.
AE is cooperating for the design and implementation of the Disability Employment Package
Autism-Europe cooperates closely with relevant stakeholders in relation to the design and implementation of the Disability Employment Package within a dedicated working group of the Disability Platform. The Disability Platform is a work forum bringing together the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Inclusion and Social Affairs, EU member states’ ministries representative in charge of disability issues as well as several European organisations of people with disabilities, including Autism-Europe.