Make more efforts in Japan are needed to help disabled employees stay in jobs long-term

From The Japan News

February 28th 2018

People with disabilities working in accordance with their motivation and abilities, thereby helping to support society — it is hoped that a soon-to-be-implemented measure provides momentum in creating an environment for this objective.

The proportion of mandatory employment of handicapped people — a scheme that obliges corporations and others to hire a certain percentage of disabled people — will be raised in April. The proportion for private companies will be increased from the current 2 percent to 2.2 percent, and then raised to 2.3 percent by the end of fiscal 2020.

The mandatory proportion is based on the number of physically and intellectually handicapped people who want to work. The revised Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Law states that mentally disabled people are to be newly included in the calculation to determine the number of handicapped people. April’s mandatory proportion increase reflects this.

Corporations with 50 or more employees are currently subject to the mandatory ratio system, but the scope of corporations subject to it will be expanded step by step.

The number of disabled people who want to find employment is increasing. From the standpoint of encouraging them to participate in society and become self-reliant, it is important to widen the scope of places in which they can be actively involved. The need to increase the number of workers has been growing amid a fall in the working population. The mandatory ratio increase can be described as a measure befitting the circumstances.

There were 496,000 disabled corporate workers as of June 2017, marking a new high. That number, the 14th consecutive yearly increase, can be viewed as the result of efforts by both the public and private sectors.

As many as 50 percent of corporations have fallen short of meeting the mandatory proportion. Thirty percent of companies have not employed even a single disabled person. Delays among small- and medium-sized companies in accepting handicapped people are conspicuous.

Small- and medium-sized corporations have scant know-how regarding what kind of work should be assigned to disabled people and what considerations should be given to them in an appropriate manner. Therefore, there are cases in which such corporations are hesitant about hiring handicapped people.

Many companies are tapping into the abilities of handicapped people and utilizing them as a valuable asset, thereby improving business performance. The government should strive to spread information about pioneering cases. Reinforcing support for them through Hello Work job placement offices and others is also indispensable.

Expanding the scope of workplace experience and trial employment for handicapped people will be helpful not only in dispelling corporations’ anxieties but also for preventing mismatches in aptitude and workplaces.

Ensuring disabled people can continue to work for the long-term is another task. Just 60 to 70 percent of physically and intellectually disabled people whose impairments are relatively stable remain in their jobs one year after starting work. Only 50 percent of mentally handicapped people stay in their jobs after one year.

It is important for organizations related to such fields as labor, welfare, medicine and education to cooperate in facilitating arrangements for supporting their employment and lives in an integrated manner.

It is particularly necessary to provide mentally disabled people with even more carefully fine-tuned support, given that their symptoms are in many cases unstable.

It is also worth considering expanding subsidies for corporations that achieve good results in the effort to encourage handicapped people to work for a long time and promote their career development.

Utilizing diverse human resources is a pillar of the government’s growth strategy. Expanding job opportunities for disabled people is part of that endeavor. Corporations should make further efforts in this respect.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 28, 2018)

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