Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Employment Strategy and Impact on Disabled Persons in the Workplace: Discussion (Resumed)

Ms Jodie McGriele:

A cross-departmental approach is needed as there are so many strands. Housing is a huge issue now that impacts employment infrastructure, transportation, etc. We ask for funding to be ring-fenced for digital compliance and the education sector in the form, say, of accessible assessments. It is not okay to say, if somebody is independent in terms of digital literacy, that he or she then must have a personal reader to complete his or her assessment or exams, in a further education, higher education or secondary education facility.

On executing public awareness, even having something like a disability confidence digital badge would mean we could get businesses to invest and be really proud of that. Ensuring employers in public, private and NGO sectors make the interview processes fair, and this includes online or in-person. Also, accommodations should be available when a person arrives at the building or interview. It is the same when you get a job. It is not okay to disclose your disability and then to get to the job on the first day but assistance or assistive technology is not in place.

We ask for the Government to undertake a public awareness campaign, as promised in the comprehensive employment strategy, and to publish the review into the Department of Social Protection's reasonable accommodation fund.

We recommend switching around the model of a personal employment grant in order that it is based on the person's needs as opposed to the role he or she might be in.

We would have a similar issue with the HSE technical aids grant in terms of it being a postcode lottery and people not having access to funding they need. Regarding flexibility in welfare payments or tax allowances, we found people who were self-employed and who had to quit because they were terrified of losing benefits and entitlements and were not earning enough to live. It is about being mindful that it costs on average €45 more for a person with a disability to live and all the barriers he or she encounters on a daily basis.