EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Adecco, France: Integration into the labour market of people at risk of exclusion – people with disabilities


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Consultancy business services
integrating people at risk of exclusion into the labour market

Access to employment for persons with disabilities through the provision of temporary work is part of a recruitment and integration process within private sector companies. A network of agencies promotes the diverse capabilities of people with disabilities in an effort to integrate them into the labour market. The aim is to facilitate the employment of these people and to provide a follow-up service once they are employed. This approach is based on the principle of non-discrimination in the recruitment processes, namely to focus on their skills and not their disability.

Organisational background

Adecco is a world leader in human resource (HR) solutions, with a comprehensive service portfolio which includes providing temporary and contract workers, outsourcing, permanent recruitment, outplacement and career services, training and consulting. Adecco was established in 1996, following the merger of the Swiss company Adia and the French company Ecco, two leading personnel service companies with complementary geographical profiles. With 6,600 offices in 72 countries and 33,000 employees, Adecco is well positioned to service its client base, whether they are large global companies or small local business partners.

Adecco in France is a temporary work agency with 5,000 employees in 1,000 agencies specialising in several sectors of the economy, such as construction, industry and services. The company also aims to cover many different qualifications among its employees and management staff. Through the ‘Disability and skills’ division of the agency, the ‘Innovation and diversity service’ ensures a recruitment programme that focuses on the evaluation of skills rather than on a person’s disability.

Description of the initiative

The disability and skills division of the company was initially launched within Ecco in 1986 to facilitate the labour market access of persons with disabilities. Ecco took this approach on the initiative of the regional administration around the capital city of Paris, Ile-de-France, even before the government introduced the Law of 10 July 1987. The legislation obliges companies to allocate at least 6% of jobs to disabled people.

The programme promotes equality of opportunities on the basis of personal skills, competencies and experience. The objective of the initiative is to identify and provide work opportunities to suit candidates with disabilities, while also helping these workers to develop additional skills to ensure sustainable employment.

In 2005, the network of Adecco agencies facilitated the employment of 5,830 persons with disabilities in 8,000 companies, with 1,665 people gaining full-time employment; these figures represent an increase in employment of 6% of people with disabilities compared with 2004 data. Moreover, the population of temporary workers with disabilities has a yearly turnover of 40%. Disabled workers who take on temporary work are mainly men aged between 26 and 44 years; in relation to the age profile, this contrasts with the traditional population of temporary workers being mainly young people. Industry represents the principal sector of employment for temporary positions as the jobs on offer require lower qualifications; for example, positions such as warehouseperson or driver.

Adecco is one of the main employers in the private sector of workers with disabilities in France. Its aim is to fight discrimination of workers with disabilities by promoting social inclusion, in particular by recognising the skills of these workers and through offering them work experience. A team of 35 professionals informs people with disabilities about existing labour legislation and the way that it affects their employment opportunities. The professionals also encourage the integration into employment of disabled people, particularly in industry and in the services sector.

Adecco provides its staff with guidance on issues relating to people with disabilities by building partnerships with other national networks specialised in the field, such as Agefiph and Cap Emploi. Each staff member who is part of the disability and skills division of Adecco has a double mission in their job: first, they must inform and mobilise the advisers in the network agencies on the integration of disabled workers; secondly, they must cooperate with the client companies in the local area by providing information on integration measures, suitable work organisation and employment opportunities, as well as the needs of workers with disabilities.

In cooperation with the temporary employment fund (Fonds professionnel pour l’emploi dans le travail temporaire, FPE-TT), Adecco also takes part in the creation of awareness documents bound for all companies offering temporary work, and in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Furthermore, Adecco developed a training module for professionals on how to deal with temporary employment and workers with disabilities, in order to return to recruitment techniques which place greater emphasis on the know-how of the person and less on rather subjective aspects.

When it comes to disablement caused by an occupational accident, Adecco acts as an employment intermediary in the partnership between the company and the national networks Agefiph and Cap Emploi. In situations where a worker becomes disabled as a result of an occupational accident and is expelled from work, Adecco brings in its knowledge in relation to the particular disability to ensure the integration and professional reorientation of former employees. In this case, Adecco proposes adequate training courses in cooperation with target companies.

The aim is to establish suitable on-the-job training courses aimed at getting people with disabilities into employment. Such a training programme should begin with a thorough assessment of the competences required by the company in relation to the experience of the disabled worker, thus allowing the employer gain a different perception of the capabilities of people with disabilities. Consequently, this could change their recruitment practices which, until now, are based on the limited information provided by a worker’s curriculum vitae (CV).


The principal objective of Adecco is to modify employment practices in relation to workers with disabilities and to create a long-term partnership with local companies. Work experience offers people with disabilities the possibility of being recruited by companies on a longer-term basis; it therefore facilitates professional integration of disabled workers who are too often victims of discrimination before entering employment and who must prove their skills and capabilities. Before the recruitment process, advisers in Adecco’s agencies must be aware of the difficulties faced by workers with disabilities in the workplace, so they are in a better position to help them find a suitable opportunity.

Adecco’s efforts to help disabled workers are characterised by its ability to target companies in the private sector, and in particular its assistance in mobilising and providing professional training for employees in general and for those who become disabled. In this regard, efforts to bridge connections between sectors and trades are based on relevant training initiatives. This approach to prevent discrimination in relation to workers with disabilities proves to be an effective way to foster the integration of these workers into suitable employment.

One of the key factors of success is the continuous cooperation between the regional authorities and the network of agencies in establishing the needs of companies as well as a common approach to combating the social exclusion of disabled people. This involves the exchange of practices and successful experiences of partnerships with local companies. Moreover, these organisations have a good perception of the capabilities of people with a disability and are making efforts to increase awareness among companies and to engage all of the relevant actors in such processes to counteract any negative opinions of disabled workers. Client companies are given advice about how to welcome someone with a specific disability within their teams, and how to prepare the working environment to suit the needs of these workers. Negotiations between Adecco and potential employers are centred around the vocational qualifications of workers and the requirements of the company, which removes any emphasis on a worker’s disability.

Exemplary and contextual factors

In today’s socioeconomic landscape, where high unemployment and discrimination in relation to recruitment practices prevail, it is essential to create the opportunity for those with a disability to avail of work experience in the form of temporary work. This helps to reduce existing prejudices towards people with disabilities while also supporting their social integration. The main objective in this regard is to create greater awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities and to highlight the fact that many of these people are well able to be integrated into employment. By developing a personal contact with companies and gathering a precise knowledge of the economic situation of these companies, temporary agency work could facilitate better access to professional experiences for people with disabilities while at the same time giving them a chance to prove their abilities and skills.

Rachid Bouchareb, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris

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