No increase in numbers of disabled employees in government despite legislation

Legislation to increase the number of people with disabilities working in central government in Poland appears to have had little impact. A study found that although the number of disabled people employed in central administrative offices had gone up slightly between 2010 and 2012, only three out of 15 units had achieved the target of 6%. It was also found the majority had either acquired their disability during their time there or had been transferred from offices which had closed.

Background

New rules introduced in Poland in 2011 were intended to increase the number of disabled people working in central administrative offices. A recent study shows the legislation has had little impact so far.

The study, Employment of disabled people in selected ministries, central offices and state organisational units (in Polish, 984 KB PDF), looked at the employment of disabled people in selected ministries, central offices and state organisational units. It was carried out by the Supreme Audit Office to find out how far legal obligations towards disabled people in selected units of central administration had been fulfilled.

Its main aim was to assess the effects of the recent legal changes. The new rules say disabled people should have priority in employment where they earn a place in the best candidates' group during the recruitment process and where the office that is recruiting staff has not met its quota of at least 6% disabled employees.

The dynamics of employment

The target level of 6% is lower than the employment rate of disabled people across Poland’s general population, which stood at 14.8% in 2011. Even so, only three out of 15 central government units inspected reached or exceeded the target.

Those hitting their target were the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, the Ministry of Treasury, and the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression. The lowest percentage disabled people (less than 1%) were employed in the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and the Ministry of National Education.

Between 2010 and 2012, there was a slight increase in employment of the disabled in most of the inspected offices, except at the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of National Defence. The highest rise was in the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, from approximately 3.8% to approximately 7.3%, and the Ministry of Treasury, from approximately 4.4 % to approximately 6.6%.

However, in absolute terms, the highest increase, by 124 employees, was in the number of disabled employees was in the Social Insurance Institution. The Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (25 people) and the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (16 people) also saw large increases.

The Ministry of Treasury reached its 6% target only because of a reduction in numbers in its office. There was no actual increase in the number of disabled employees between 2010 and 2012, or any hiring of disabled employees.

In most of the cases, the growth of the employment rate was connected to the fact that people who had already been employed in particular offices acquired the disability status. Other departments had disabled people transferred to them from offices that had been closed down.

The table shows the growth of the employment rate of disabled people in the inspected units corresponded to the overall rise of the rate in central administration in general. However, it remained markedly lower than in local administration units, where it exceeded 4.5% in November 2012.

Employment rate of the disabled in central administrative units
  January 2011 December 2011 December 2012
All employed by working time (full-time; part time)

135,865.34

132,107.13

131,786.82

Disabled people employed by working time (full-time; part time)

2,525.47

2,626.21

2,939.95

Employment rate of the disabled

2.01%

2.15%

2.41%

Source: SAO 2013, p. 22.

In 210 cases where people were recruited, the rules giving a disabled applicant priority were applied only once. However, no irregularities were revealed during the inspections of recruitment processes conducted by the Supreme Audit Office, and it found that most inspected units had taken steps to adjust office space to the needs of the disabled.

Commentary

The modest impact so far of the legal requirements for employment rates of the disabled and the continuously low level of disabled employment in government departments are caused by several factors. First of all, the new legal arrangements have been in force for a relatively short amount of time. Secondly, there may be insufficient experience and qualifications among the disabled candidates entering the recruitment process. This may also partly explain the discrepancy between the employment rate in central government and in local administration, where skills and experience needed are often lower.

However, as stated in the report, the key factor seems to be the attitude of the heads of particular units. The report says more openness and a greater interest in the issue among managers would contribute to higher levels of employment among disabled people.

References

Central Statistical Office (2011), Employment of disabled people in 2011, Warsaw, available at http://www.stat.gov.pl/cps/rde/xbcr/gus/pw_osoby_niepelnosprawne_na_rynku_pracy_w_2011.pdf

Supreme Audit Office (2013), Employment of disabled people in selected ministries, central offices and state organisational units, Warsaw, available at http://www.nik.gov.pl/plik/id,5180,vp,6707.pdf

Marianna Zieleńska, Institute of Public Affairs

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