Slow progress in employment of disabled workers

Legislation on the compulsory employment of disabled workers in France was passed in 2005. It appears to have increased the recruitment of workers with disabilities, but at a slow pace. Figures show the number of disabled people in private sector companies with at least 20 employees increased by 3.1% in 2011. However, four in ten companies which have hired disabled workers still fall short of the legal requirements. Disabled workers are predominantly older men in low-skilled jobs.


In 2005, the Government of France introduced rules on the compulsory employment of disabled workers, the Obligation d’emploi de travailleurs handicapés (OETH). Companies with at least 20 staff must have 6% of full-time equivalent workers on their payroll registered as disabled.

There are five ways of meeting the legal requirements. Companies may:

  • directly hire workers with recognised disabilities;
  • employ them indirectly, for instance in sub-contracted activities;
  • employment through vocational training schemes, although this method is limited to 2% of the workforce;
  • a collective agreement at sectoral, group or workplace level that assures the integration of disabled employees, and the agreement must be approved by a public authority;

The fifth option is that the company may be charged – or decide to pay – a fee if it fails to satisfy the legal requirements through the other four measures. If the company does this, fees can be 400 to 1,500 times the hourly national minimum wage per disabled worker not employed. The contribution is paid to the Association for Managing the Fund to Place Disabled Persons into Employment (Agefiph).

Research results

The recent study by the Ministry of Employment’s Office for Research and Statistics (DARES) uses administrative time-series records to analyse the implementation of the measure.

This analysis, examining data from 100,100 companies, showed that in 2011 the number of companies employing disabled workers had increased by just over 3% since 2010, compared to a rise of 2.8% in the previous year. These workplaces had a total workforce of 9.3 million employees, more than 370,000 (4%) of whom had a recorded disability. However, the increase in disabled employment may partly be due to changes in legislation and better declaration by the companies.

Figures show 69% of companies employed disabled workers directly, 20% used indirect employment and 11% (11,300 workplaces) were covered by an approved collective agreement. The data for 2011 show that 40% of all companies without an agreement did not meet the quota and had to pay fees to Agefiph.

Whether covered by an agreement or not, the data also showed direct employment was more likely to occur in large companies with more than 500 employees (99%) than in small workplaces with 20 to 49 workers (70%).

Profile of disabled workers

Profiling of employees with disability show they are predominantly male, older than the average workforce and low skilled. The figure shows that 61% of disabled workers are male, while men make up 58% of the total workforce in private-sector companies with at least 20 employees. The research also shows disabled workers are most likely to be 50 or above (45%), whereas in the whole workforce, 68% are aged between 25 and 49. Very few disabled workers are in higher managerial or professional positions (6%), but almost one in two employees with a disability (46%) are primarily low-skilled workers.

Finally, disabled workers are twice as likely to work part-time – 26% of disabled workers are part-time, as opposed to 13% of the total workforce.

Disabled employees compared to the general workforce, 2011 (%)

Disabled employees compared to the general workforce, 2011 (%)

Source: Amrous (2013)

The number of newly-hired disabled employees in 2011 was 42,500. Almost one in four was employed by a small company with 20 to 49 staff (23%). While 29% of the total population of new recruits in 2011 were hired on fixed-term contracts, disabled workers were more frequently given fixed-term contracts (34%); 34% had permanent arrangements and 32% were hired through an agency. This compares with 41% of the general workforce who have permanent contract, and 30% hired through an agency.


Amrous, N. (2013), The employment of disabled workers in establishments with 20 or more employees in the private sector – Review of the year 2011 (preliminary data), Dares Analyses.

Sebastian Schulze-Marmeling, IR Share

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Add new comment