Employees with Disabilities
Finding and retaining skilled employees with the right qualifications and level of experience is a challenge for many businesses.
Topics covered in this section include:
An Untapped talent pool
Individuals with disabilities represent an untapped candidate pool for businesses. Recruiting and retaining people with disabilities is one approach to counter the effects of the aging and shrinking workforce.
- The estimated number of adults (aged 16-74) with disabilities in Massachusetts is more than 500,000, or approximately 11 percent of the state population. Of that number, only 30 percent of people with disabilities are employed versus 74 percent for people without disabilities.1
- More than 15 percent of people with disabilities in Massachusetts hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher; an additional 23.3 percent have completed some college.2
- Employees with disabilities can help businesses succeed by:
- offering fresh ideas about solving problems,
- accomplishing tasks and
- implementing strategies.
- Employees with disabilities often provide businesses an inside advantage to an expanded customer base.
Businesses that hire individuals with disabilities report reduced employee turnover, increased employee loyalty, and increased morale and productivity of other employees.
A 2007 study by DePaul University that compared work-related variables of 314 participating employees found that employees with disabilities were just as dependable and productive as employees without disabilities.3 DePaul researchers also found that:
- Employees with disabilities had nearly identical job performance ratings as employees without disabilities.
- The amount of supervision required was similar for both groups.
- Participants from certain sectors stayed on the job longer than their counterparts.
- Very few special accommodations were provided to employees with disabilities, and the average cost of the accommodations was $313.
To build a loyal, dedicated and productive workforce, employers must accommodate workers — with and without disabilities — every day. For people with disabilities, job accommodations can play a vital role in facilitating employment, whether they have a pre-existing disability or are returning to work following an injury or illness.
- Approximately 46 percent of accommodations cost absolutely nothing, and 45% have a one-time cost, typically around $5004.
- An estimated 75 percent of accommodations are either very effective or extremely effective, and result in multiple benefits including:
- allowing the company to retain a qualified employee;
- increasing the worker’s productivity; and
- eliminating the costs of training a new employee.5
The IRS offers tax credits and deductions for companies that hire workers with disabilities and for making their businesses and work places accessible.
The Disabled Access Credit provides a credit for small businesses that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full-time employees in the previous year and provided access to persons with disabilities. Small businesses may take the credit each year they incur access expenditures. Eligible expenditures may include:
- barrier removal
- acquiring or modifying equipment, and
- accommodating hearing-impaired and visually-impaired individuals.
For more information about eligible expenditures, go to: Form 8826, Disabled Access Credit
The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 per year for qualified expenses, and may claim the deduction by listing it as a separate expense on their income tax return.
Businesses may use both the Disabled Access Credit and the Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction together in the same tax year, if the expenses meet the requirements for both.
The Work Opportunity Credit provides eligible employers with a tax credit for hiring individuals from several targeted groups including persons with disabilities. The employer may claim a tax credit of up to 40% of the first $6,000 of first-year wages after certification is received from the appropriate government agencies and the employee has worked for at least 120 hours. The first step is pre-screening to determine eligibility; the jobseeker or the employer must complete the following forms:
- Individual Characteristics Form Work Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit ETA 9061
- Certification Welfare Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work Tax Credits 9062
- Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for Welfare Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work Credits Form 8850
The employer and the jobseeker must sign the Form 8850, under penalty of perjury, attesting that the jobseeker is a member of a target group. The employer then sends the Form 8850 with the ETA 9061 or 9062 attached and postmarked no later than the 28th day after the jobseeker begins work to:
Work Opportunity Tax Credit Unit
Division of Career Services
19 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
- Review company job descriptions for ADA compliance.
- Review buildings and property grounds for ADA compliance.
- Provide company recruiters and hiring managers with ADA and disability awareness and sensitivity training.
- Include sources of qualified candidates with disabilities in your recruitment strategies.
- Extend an invitation to local organizations that provide employment services to people with disabilities to tour your company. Establish an ongoing relationship with these organizations.
- Network with other businesses that have experience employing people with disabilities.
State and National Resources
- Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission assists individuals with disabilities return to work and helps local businesses find qualified workers at no charge.
- Massachusetts One Stop Career Centers form the foundation of the state’s system for employment and training services. Employers can obtain assistance with recruitment and hiring, workforce training grants, tax credit programs, and labor market information.
- Job Accommodation Network Fact Sheet Series Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact is an assessment of the costs and benefits to employers of providing accommodations to employees with disabilities.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tax credits and deductions to businesses that accommodate individuals with disabilities.
- Commonwealth Corporation Research and Evaluation Brief Working with Disabilities is a comprehensive analysis of data from the American Community Surveys for 2003 and 2004. Includes labor force activity of adults with disabilities living in Massachusetts compared to other New England states and the U.S.
- DePaul University Exploring the Bottom Line is a 2007 study of the costs and benefits of workers with disabilities.
1Commonwealth Corporation Research and Evaluation Brief, “Working with Disabilities”, June 2006
2American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 2003 and 2004
3DePaul University, “Exploring the Bottom Line: A Study of the Costs and Benefits of Workers with Disabilities”, 2007
4Job Accommodation Network Fact Sheet Series, “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact”, 2006
5Job Accommodation Network Fact Sheet Series, “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact”, 2006