Employment situation of disabled workers

A 2008 Dares survey into the employment situation of people with some kind of official recognition of their disability found that 6% of the French population aged between 15 and 64 fell into this category. This group is characterised by having more men, older workers and a lower level of educational attainment than the total population. They also had lower rates of employment and activity, worked part-time more often and had less access to training.

About the survey

The survey (in French, 155Kb PDF), Handicap et santé auprès des ménages (HSM) [Disability and health in households], carried out by the Ministry of Employment’s Office for Research, Studies and Statistics (Dares) in 2008 investigated the employment situation of people with an official recognition of their disability.

The study involved a sample of about 30,000 people selected from a previous filter study conducted in 2007 called Vie quotidienne et santé (VQS) [Daily life and health]. The VQS study allowed Dares to create four categories of handicap from the least to the most severe. The sampling for the HSM survey deliberately overrepresented those people with the most severe handicap. Interviews were conducted face to face. Disabled persons living in specialist institutes were not included in the sample.

Key findings

Acquiring disability status

According to the survey, 6% of the French population aged between 15 and 64 years old (2.5 million people) declare that they have official recognition of their disability through one or more of the following:

  • receiving an invalidity allowance from the military authorities;
  • receiving an allowance following an accident at work;
  • receiving invalidity benefit due to incapability to work;
  • receiving the allowance for disabled adults (Allocation d’Adultes Handicapés, AAH);
  • having an invalidity card;
  • acquiring Recognised Disabled Worker Status (RQTH) through their employer;
  • working in a protected or adapted work establishment.

Official recognition of disability allows people to benefit from the compulsory employment of disabled workers measure (Obligation d’emploi de travailleurs handicapés, OETH). In France, at least 6% of the workforce should be included within the scope of OETH in enterprises with more than 20 employees. Enterprises are fined if they do not meet this quota, though many choose to pay the fine rather to meet the quota.

Characteristics of disability group

The survey found that men were overrepresented in the population of people benefiting from an official recognition of disability in 2008 (Table 1). Men represented 56% of this group compared with 49% of the total population aged between 15 and 64. This is connected to the fact that 80% of disability recognitions related to work accidents concern blue-collar workers.

Those with an official recognition of their disability also tended to be older than the 15–64 year-old reference population. Their median age was 49, compared with a median age of 40 in the reference population.

The survey found that 51% of those with an official recognition of their disability had no educational diploma or only a former school certificate, compared with only 31% of the reference population. This can also be related to the overexposure of blue-collar workers to work accidents. Another explanation is that people disabled early in life may stop studying earlier.

Table 1: Characteristics of those officially recognised as disabled, 2008
  People with an official recognition of disability Total population 1
Number (millions)

2.5

41.0

Gender (%)    
Women

44

51

Men

56

49

Age (years):    
15–29

9

29

30–39

15

20

40–49

28

22

50–64

48

29

Median age (years)

49

40

Diploma level (%):    
Baccalaureate + two or more years of study

10

27

Baccalaureate or professional certificate

9

17

Professional diploma

30

25

No diploma or only former school certificate

51

31

Note: 1Population concerned is only those aged 15–64 years.

Source: Ulrich (2011, Table 1)

Employment status

In 2008, this group of people had:

  • a lower employment rate than the reference population (36% compared with 64%);
  • a lower activity rate (46% compared with 71%);
  • a higher unemployment rate (22% compared with 10%).

When they were in employment they more often worked part-time (25% compared with 16%) and tended to have had less access to training in the past 12 months (26% compared with 34%) (Table 2).

Table 2: Employment status of persons with official recognition of disability, 2008 (%)
  People with an official recognition of disability Total population 1

In employment

36

64

In activity

46

71

Unemployed

22

10

Job-hunting

10

7

Non-active

54

29

Part-time work

25

16

Access to training in the past 12 months:

   

Yes

26

34

No

74

66

Note: 1Population concerned is only those aged 15–64 years.

Source: Ulrich (2011)

Impact of health on career

Reports that health affected ability to work were more common among respondents with an official recognition of disability who had jobs (Table 3).

  • They did part-time work for health reasons more often than the reference population (38% compared with 4%).
  • In the previous 12 months, they had more often been absent from their work for health reasons than the reference population (39% compared with 26%) and for a longer period of time.
Table 3: Impacts of health problems on career (%)
  People with an official recognition of disability Total population 1
Part-time work:    
For health reasons

38

4

All other reasons

62

96

Absence from work for health reasons in the past 12 months:    
Yes

39

26

No

61

74

Number of days of absence for health reasons in the past 12 months:    
3 or less

11

26

4–7

18

22

8–15

16

21

16–30

19

12

31–60

13

7

61 and more

23

12

Note: The same age category was used where appropriate.

Source: Ulrich (2011)

Commentary

This study is of great interest, exploring the characteristics of the population who have an official recognition of disability and the effect that their health may have on their employment situation. This study would have been more comprehensive if it had included more qualitative information about how work is perceived by these workers. It is known from other sources (Demaret, 2004; Jacquinot, 2009) that disabled workers (especially those born disabled or becoming disabled early on in life) show higher motivation and attachment to work than other workers. By paying attention to this aspect of their working lives, this study would have been more balanced and fair about the effects of disability on work.

References

Demaret, L. (2004), ‘Handicap: le coût humain de la discrimination’, in Syndicats et personnes handicapées: promouvoir le travail décent et combatte la discrimination (435Kb PDF), Education Ouvrière, 2004/4, No. 137, International Labour Organization, Geneva, pp. 11–17.

Jacquinot, P. (2009), ‘Les employés handicapés en France: leçons d’intégration’, Gestion, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2009, pp. 116–127.

Ulrich, V. (2011), La situation sur le marché du travail en 2008 des personnes ayant une reconnaissance administrative de leur handicap (156Kb PDF), Dares Analyses, No. 40, Dares, Paris.

Sarah Mongourdin-Denoix, HERA

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