Swiftly create environment where disabled people can work stably [Yomiuri Shimbun Editorial]
“The important thing is to make preparations for accepting them. Should these new workers be hired on a massive scale and in a coercive manner, just to make up the numbers, it would be difficult for these individuals to settle into their new workplaces. It is a matter of course to aim at meeting the statutory hiring rate soon, but such endeavors should be advanced carefully, in keeping with workplace conditions.”
It is important to expand the range of places where disabled people can demonstrate their abilities and work stably. Government ministries and agencies as well as local governments need to develop their systems to support disabled workers, to be ready for a large increase in the number of such workers they accept.
Responding to the revelation last summer that government ministries and agencies had padded their number of disabled employees, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry council has compiled a proposal aimed at preventing such irregularities from recurring. The proposal centers around such measures as strengthening the labor ministry’s monitoring of other government entities.
Taking the opinion paper into account, the labor ministry plans to submit to the current Diet session a bill to revise the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Law. Government ministries and agencies must actively move forward with their respective efforts.
According to the results of verification efforts announced last October, a total of 3,700 people were inappropriately counted as disabled employees at administrative organizations of the central government. The number of disabled workers who were counted as working at these public entities was said to exceed the statutory employment rate, but the actual number was only about half of the legally set rate.
Most of the padded figures stemmed from the inclusion in the calculation of disabled workers people who did not have the required documentation confirming their disability, such as a physical disability certificate, and therefore should have been excluded from the calculation.
For private-sector companies, the law stipulates that the labor ministry is authorized to make an on-the-spot inspection to prevent improprieties. However, there is no such provision for state organizations and the like, with such entities only required to make a relevant report to the labor ministry. This may be one reason the padding of the figures went undetected for many years.
It is reasonable that the opinion paper calls for the law to also stipulate the monitoring authority of the labor ministry over other central government entities.
Rules should apply to all
The proposal also recommends that the requirements currently imposed on private-sector entities be applied to central government organizations, such as the keeping of documentation certifying an employee’s disability and the notification of disabled workers’ dismissal to a relevant organization. The padding of disabled employee numbers has demonstrated that as long as this matter is left to the initiative of government ministries and agencies, management could become slipshod. It is inevitable for the public entities to be regulated in a similar manner to private-sector organizations.
It is also essential to clarify how the status of disabled persons should be confirmed and how they should be deemed to be counted among disabled workers. Each government ministry and agency used its own criteria, different from the original rules, to decide who would be counted as a disabled employee, based on factors including methods and information received from predecessors and personnel records.
The government plans to employ an additional about 4,000 disabled workers by the end of 2019, to achieve the goal of reaching the statutory employment rate.
The important thing is to make preparations for accepting them. Should these new workers be hired on a massive scale and in a coercive manner, just to make up the numbers, it would be difficult for these individuals to settle into their new workplaces. It is a matter of course to aim at meeting the statutory hiring rate soon, but such endeavors should be advanced carefully, in keeping with workplace conditions.
In line with the increase in the statutory hiring rate, the hiring of disabled workers by private-sector firms has also become brisk. Many companies are also creating an environment easier for disabled people to work in, by devising work content and working hours in conformity with the characteristics of individual workers. If government ministries and agencies poach human resources from private-sector firms, it will not lead to an increase in the number of disabled people who work.
Public organizations should assume a role fitting to them, by, for instance, promoting the hiring of mentally disabled people, a practice that remains sluggish among private-sector entities.