Dr. Navpreet Kaur
Dr. Navpreet Kaur is a Chandigarh based Lawyer/Social Activist/ Diversity & Inclusion Expert/ POSH Trainer/ Co- founder & Vice President of The Laxmi Foundation ( for acid attack survivors) who has considerable experience of working with various legal institutions.
Did you know that there are currently over 1 billion disabled people in the world? Disability is not just noticeable physical impairments, but also includes environmental barriers that hinder their full participation in society. According to the World Health Organization, a disabled person is anyone who has a problem in body function or structure, activity limitation, difficulty in executing a task, or participation restriction.
Disability discrimination and challenges at workplaces
Working with a disability can be challenging, both physically and mentally. Accessibility is a major barrier for individuals with disabilities, with most resources not designed with them in mind. Discrimination starts at home and continues through the lack of inclusive education, classrooms, curriculum, and awareness amongst parents. This deprives them of their fundamental right to education, and their chances of earning employment shrink further. Even if they do get educated, employers are not confident about hiring individuals with disabilities. Adapting to new limitations, finding inclusive workplaces, and dealing with physical barriers can be tough. Additionally, strict work hours and policies can make it difficult to focus on your physical or mental needs while on the job. People with disabilities face numerous challenges in finding and retaining employment, leading to high unemployment rates and discrimination during the hiring process.
What is disability inclusion?
Including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers who do not have a disability is called disability inclusion. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, United States) Disability inclusion is crucial for creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. It’s not just about hiring people with disabilities, but also valuing their strengths and providing equal opportunities for learning, fair compensation, and advancement. Inclusive workplaces recognize the importance of disability inclusion in the hiring process, resulting in better access to qualified talent and improved employee retention. By prioritizing disability inclusion, businesses can build morale and help all employees do their best work.
Rights of Person with Disabilities in India
The Constitution of India lays down the rights pertaining to the equality, freedom, justice, speech and dignity of all citizens of India including disabled individuals. Equality and Dignity of the individual is a fundamental notion behind all the fundamental rights guaranteed under part III of the Constitution of India that protects the rights of the disabled. Article of Constitution of India declares that the State shall make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disability. Article lays down an obligation on the State to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
Rights of Person with Disabilities Act (RPWAD), 2016
The Disability Act (RPWD) act promotes and protects the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in various aspects of life – educational, social, legal, economic, and cultural and political. As per the Act, – every appropriate Government shall appoint in every government establishment, not less than four percent of the total number of vacancies. In which one percent shall be reserved for persons with benchmark locomotors disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy.
Skill Development and Employment under Rights of Person with Disabilities Act, 2016
Formulation of schemes and Programmes : Section 19 of the Act requires the appropriate government to formulate schemes and programmes, including provision of loans at concessional rates, to facilitate and support the employment of persons with disabilities, especially for their vocational training and self-employment. These government schemes and programmes focus on all mainstream formal and non-formal vocational and skill training schemes and programmes shall ensure inclusion of person with disability with adequate provision of support and facilities; also exclusive skill training programmes will be devised for those with developmental, intellectual, multiple disabilities and autism with active links with the market.
Protection against discrimination in employment : Section 20 states that no government establishment shall discriminate against any person with disability in any matter relating to employment, provided that the appropriate government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any establishment, by notification and subject to such conditions, if any, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section.
Reasonable accommodation and a conducive work environment : section 20 also requires every government establishment to provide reasonable accommodation and appropriate barrier free and conducive environment to employees with disability.
Can persons with disabilities be denied promotions on the grounds of disability?
Section 20 states that no promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of disability.
Can a government employee who acquires a disability whilst in service be dismissed from service?
No government establishment shall dispense with or reduce in rank an employee who acquires a disability during his or her service, provided that, if an employee after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, shall be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits. And if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he or she attains the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier.
Policies for transfers of persons with disabilities : Section 20.5 requires the appropriate government to frame policies for the posting and transfer of employees with disabilities.
Equal Opportunity Policy : An Equal Opportunity Policy, as stated in Section 21, is a document detailing measures proposed to be taken by an establishment in line with provisions of this Act and is to be framed and notified by every establishment and is to be registered with the office of the Chief Commissioner or the State Commissioner as the case may be.
Maintainance of Records of employees with disabilities and facilities : Section 22 requires every establishment to maintain records of persons with disabilities employed, facilities provided and other necessary information.
Employment Exchanges : Section 22 requires every employment exchange to maintain records of persons with disabilities seeking employment and these records shall be open to inspection by government-authorized representatives.
What will the government do to identify suitable jobs for persons with benchmark disabilities?
Section 33 requires the appropriate government to Identify posts in establishments which can be held by respective category of persons with benchmark disabilities in respect of the vacancies reserved in accordance with the provisions of section 34;
Constitute an expert committee with representation of persons with benchmark disabilities for identification of such posts; and
Undertake periodic review of the identified posts at an interval not exceeding three years
Reservation Percentage in vacancies : Section 34 requires every appropriate government to appoint in every government establishment not less than 4% of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength in each group of posts meant to be filled with persons with benchmark disabilities of which, 1% each shall be reserved for persons with benchmark disabilities under clauses (a), (b) and (c) and 1% for persons with benchmark disabilities under clauses (d) and (e), namely (a) blindness and low vision; (b) deaf and hard of hearing; (c) locomotors disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy; (d) autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness; (e) multiple disabilities from amongst persons under clauses (a) to (d) including deaf-blindness:
Reservations in promotions : Reservation in promotion shall be in accordance with such instructions as are issued by the appropriate Government from time to time. The appropriate government, in consultation with the Chief Commissioner or the State Commissioner, may, having regard to the type of work carried out in any government establishment, exempt the establishment from the provisions of Section 34. This exemption is to be notified and conditions of exemption specified.
What is to be done if suitable candidates are not available for posts identified for their category of benchmark disabilities?
Section 34 states that where, in any recruitment year, any vacancy cannot be filled up due to non-availability of a suitable person with benchmark disability or for any other sufficient reasons, such vacancy shall be carried forward in the succeeding recruitment year and if in the succeeding recruitment year also suitable person with benchmark disability is not available, it may first be filled by interchange among the five categories and only when there is no person with disability available for the post in that year, the employer shall fill up the vacancy by appointment of a person, other than a person with disability.
Age relaxation : Section 34 states that the appropriate government may, by notification, provide for such relaxation of upper age limit for employment of persons with benchmark disability, as it thinks fit.
Employment in private sector : Section 35 requires the appropriate government and the local authorities to, within the limit of their economic capacity and development, provide incentives to employer in private sector to ensure that at least 5% of their work force is composed of persons with benchmark disability.
Records to Special Employment Exchanges : Section 36 requires the appropriate government to notify that the employer in every establishment is to furnish such information or return as prescribed by the Central government in relation to vacancies appointed for persons with benchmark disability that have occurred or are about to occur. This information is to be provided to the Central government notified special employment exchanges.
Reservation provided in poverty alleviation and development schemes and programmes :
5% reservation in allotment of agricultural land and housing in all relevant schemes and development programmes, with appropriate priority to women with benchmark disabilities;
5% reservation in all poverty alleviation and various developmental schemes with priority to women with benchmark disabilities;
5% reservation in allotment of land on concessional rate, where such land is to be used for the purpose of promoting housing, shelter, setting up of occupation, business, enterprise, recreation centres and production centres;
Rights of a person with disability if provisions of this law are not implemented :
Make representations to the concerned government and/ or the concerned establishment, if there is deprivation or violation of any right provided under the Disabilities Act.
If there is no response or if the response is negative/ inadequate, approach the concerned Commissioner of Disabilities.
Alternatively, file a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, in the concerned High Court.
If there is any violation of a Constitutional right also, of national importance, file Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution before the Supreme Court.
Conclusion and suggestions : Disability discrimination is real and affects millions of people worldwide. Diversity and inclusion for disabled is important. Identify and change processes that support unconscious bias.. A little extra effort in this area will go a long way toward creating a work environment where every employee can contribute his or her best. Companies should consider required training for all employees with and without disabilities especially anyone in a management or supervisory role. Strengthen the hiring pipeline by engaging with community groups. Training programs and opportunities to connect with other employees will help ensure that persons with disabilities develop and succeed.
Creating an accessible workplace for people with disabilities involves more than just physical fixtures. It requires a strategy that includes technological access and training materials, such as voice commands, subtitles, and button accessibility. The key to promoting inclusivity is to empower and encourage all employees to be champions of change. By raising awareness and working together, we can ensure that everyone feels supported and valued. This leads to better morale, wellbeing, and productivity for all.