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Only 31 per cent of working-age people with a disability are employed

31 per cent of working-age people with a disability are employed, which is less than half the rate of those without a disability, according to Social Justice Ireland’s latest Quarterly Employment Monitor.

As well as this, people with a disability are only 70 per cent as likely as people without a disability to enter employment.

But that’s only part of the story.  35 per cent of people with a disability haven’t had a job in more than four years, even though more than 80 per cent have been employed at some point in their lives.

The Quarterly Employment Monitor (QEM) goes on to show that four out of five people with a disability acquire that disability whilst of working age. This has the effect of plunging many people into poverty.  

Failures in the area of employment and disability are a major loss to society. People with disabilities in employment tend to be better educated than those who are not at work generally. Retaining their human capital, experience and skills is of benefit to society as well as to the individuals themselves and their families.  Consequently, action is urgently required to limit this loss.

 Social Justice Ireland believes that without specific interventions, the percentage of people with a disability in employment is unlikely to increase. They should be allowed to retain their Free Travel Pass for five years after taking up employment and there should also be an increase in the Medical Card earnings disregard for people on Disability Allowance. Both these moves were recommended by a report commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, yet no provision was made for either in Budget 2018.  This is a major disappointment.

The QEM also draws attention to the increased instance of precarious employment in the Irish economy, including “bogus” self-employment.  There has been a dramatic rise in part-time self-employed workers without employers in the last 10 years, which Social Justice Ireland believes is indicative of growth in bogus or false self-employment.

 ’Solo’ self-employment as a percentage of all self-employment is certainly increasing. While government seems to be moving to ban zero-hours contracts, there are several other facets of precarious employment that need to be examined” according to Eamon Murphy.

Other issues highlighted in the Employment Monitor include high levels of underemployment (or involuntary part-time employment), and the significant difference between the national minimum wage and what it costs to achieve the minimum socially acceptable standard of living in Ireland.

The Quarterly Employment Monitor (December) may be accessed here.