/ 11 September 2008

Disabled seen as government job-hoppers

The disabled are so highly sought after in the government that their job-hopping between departments is a cause for concern, the Public Service Commission (PSC) said on Thursday.

”Departments compete with each other for the employment of persons with disabilities,” the PSC said in an assessment on disability equity in the public service.

”The consequence of job-hopping is that departments go through the process of recruitment, orientation and training of persons with disabilities only to lose them to other departments when they are offered more lucrative offers.”

The PSC recommended that, in order for departments to meet their 2% disability equity target, they needed to offer bursaries, internships and learnership programmes for the disabled.

The PSC report said the disability equity figure in the public service was 0,9% in 1999. That increased to 0,3% in 2002 but decreased to 0,2% in 2005.

”Despite the PSC’s findings on disability equity and the fact that a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework is in place to guide departments in this regard, the situation has not improved much,” it said.

”Departments are not applying their minds adequately to the retention strategies for persons with disabilities.”

The assessment showed that 40% of government departments did not have approved employment equity plans in place even though that is one of the basic requirements of the Employment Equity Act.

It suggested that recruitment advertisements should stipulate whether posts were available to disabled people, by including a wheelchair symbol on the advertisement.

The PSC found that in the event an employee was injured and became disabled, the public servant would normally retire early instead of being accommodated with the disability.

Many government buildings and offices were still not accessible to the disabled, the PSC noted.

”This may result in negative perceptions by persons with disabilities, not viewing the public service as an employer of choice and therefore not bothering to apply for positions when advertised.”

The PSC said departments needed to budget additional money, apart from the person’s salary, to accommodate their needs.

”For instance, when departments budget for the filling of posts they can only make provision for the actual costs in terms of the remuneration package associated with the posts.

”The reality, however, is that the employment of persons with disabilities sometimes has hidden costs associated with it.” – Sapa