Right to Work and Employment of Persons with Disabilities

In 2022, the Public Defender’s Office studied the situation of the right to work and employment of persons with disabilities of working age living in Georgia. The report evaluates the study conducted in this area and reviews the international and national legal frameworks regulating the field of labour and employment, employment programmes for persons with disabilities available in the country and other state initiatives, as well as the experience of persons with disabilities in terms of employment.

The results of the study show that after the monitoring conducted by the Public Defender’s Office in 2017, the situation regarding the implementation of state programmes promoting the employment of persons with disabilities has not actually improved, and most of the recommendations proposed in a report issued 5 years ago remain unimplemented. The steps taken so far by the State and private sector in terms of employment are not enough. Moreover, they are unsystematic and temporary.

The ineffectiveness of employment programmes is also indicated by the low number of persons with disabilities employed within the framework of the programmes. In particular, the statistics according to years look like this: in 2017 - 103 persons with disabilities were employed, in 2018 - 99, in 2019 - 98, in 2020 - 37, in 2021 - 115. It is clear that this figure, a total of 452 people in five years, apart from being extremely low, is not growing dynamically, which indicates the need for effective measures to be taken by the State.

The study shows that the domestic normative acts relating to the work and employment of persons with disabilities and state support programmes are based on the medical model rejected by the Convention, which contributes to the consolidation of stereotypes against persons with disabilities. It is particularly noteworthy that the mainstream employment programmes do not take into account the needs of persons with disabilities, nor are they interested in whether or not persons with disabilities are involved in the said programmes.

The study data make it clear that for the employment of persons with disabilities, it is necessary to continuously train persons with disabilities, as well as to inform employers about the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities and the principle of reasonable accommodation. In addition, mechanisms need to be developed to minimize discrimination, including by improving legislation, introducing implementation mechanisms, and involving labour inspection and trade unions in the process. Constant monitoring by the State and non-governmental organizations is also necessary.

The report was prepared with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund.

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