How to hire someone living with an injury, illness or disability

1 in 5 Australians experience disability and yet people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed than those without disability.

Expanding your recruitment pool to include people with disability is a smart business move that can have long term benefits for your team. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace leads to stronger teamwork, better employee retention, a positive company reputation and higher productivity.

In this guide on how to hire people with disability, we discuss the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce and the practical steps your organisation can take to attract and support job seekers with disability.

What are the benefits of hiring people with disability?

Like all employees, people with disability bring a wide range of talents, skills and qualities to the workplace. Your organisation could benefit from hiring people with disability in many ways, including:

  • Wider talent pool – 1 in 5 Australians experience disability in their lifetime. Expand your talent pool to include people with disability and you might find the perfect candidate for the job.
  • Reliability – People with disability are often characterised by high dedication and commitment. They have fewer sick days, less time off work and better retention rates compared to other workers.
  • Productivity – Like anyone else, people with disability bring unique skills, talents and qualities to the job. In the right job, they can perform as well as any employee.
  • Teamwork – People with disability are often great at building relationships with customers and team members, contributing to a positive workplace culture and boosting team morale.
  • Diversity – By including people with disability in your workforce, you improve the diversity of your team which can lead to better problem solving, productivity and brand reputation.
  • Problem solving and innovation – Many people with disability have excellent problem solving and creativity skills – an asset to any workplace.
  • Community representation – Hiring people with diverse abilities means your team can better reflect the community in which you operate. This is a great way to improve your products and services and better engage with your audience.
  • Financial benefits – Hiring people with disability can lead to reduced business costs through less compensation incidents, lower employee turnover and reduced recruitment costs. Australian businesses may be eligible for financial assistance and incentives to employ people with disability.

How to hire people with disability

When thinking about how to hire people with disability, it's important to consider every stage of the recruitment process as well as employee retention. In other words, think about:

  • How will you attract candidates with disability?
  • How can you remove unintentional barriers in the recruitment process?
  • How will you support employees to succeed in the role?

Here are 5 great tips on how to hire people with disability:

1. Make your job listings accessible

Candidates with disability might be looking for signs of a diverse and inclusive workplace before applying for a job.

Show that your organisation values disability inclusion by:

  • Including a statement on all job advertisements encouraging people with disability to apply
  • Providing information about your inclusion policies on your website
  • Using representative and diverse imagery on your website
  • Captioning all videos and providing alternative text for images
  • Providing more than one way of getting in touch with the contact person, such as a phone number and email address
  • Accepting multiple ways to submit an application

2. Write inclusive job descriptions

When designing jobs and writing job descriptions, focus on the essential job requirements and leave out anything that may create unintentional barriers for people with disability. For example, a driver’s license or good verbal communication skills may not be essential to the role but may prevent some people from applying when listed on your job description.

In your job listings, use simple, clear language and avoid jargon or technical vocabulary. Provide clear information about the job responsibilities and the accessibility of your workplace so that candidates can assess whether the job is appropriate for them.

3. Rethink your interview techniques

Traditional interview techniques may not be the best way to assess whether a person is right for the job. Consider revising your interview techniques across the board or offering interview adjustments for candidates with disability.

Interview adjustments could include things such as:

  • Changing the location or time of the interview to be more accessible
  • Adjusting the interview environment, such as dimming lights for someone with sensitivity to bright light
  • Using video call technology to conduct the interview
  • Allowing the candidate to answer questions in an alternative format, such as in writing rather than verbally or vice versa
  • Providing extra time to answer questions or complete assessments
  • Providing alternative assessment formats, such as audio or large print versions
  • Providing an AUSLAN interpreter

4. Offer workplace accommodations

Everyone has different needs in the workplace. Some employees with disability may not need any extra support while others may require particular technologies, processes or environments to do the job well.

It's good practice to ask all new employees if they need any accommodations at work. Being flexible and open can help your employers feel safe and supported – which can lead to better productivity, engagement and satisfaction.

Accommodations could include things like:

  • Part time work
  • Flexible start and end times
  • Time off for medical appointments
  • Remote work
  • Scheduled break times throughout the day
  • Redesigned workspace, for example to reduce distractions or improve access to the space
  • Changes in communication such as breaking large tasks into smaller steps or providing written instructions instead of verbal instructions
  • Assistive technologies such as speech to text software or organisation apps
  • Ergonomic equipment

You may be eligible for financial assistance through the Employment Assistance Fund to provide workplace accommodations to employees with disability. See below for more details.

5. Access incentives and financial assistance

The Australian Government offers a number of incentives and financial assistance to help you with any costs associated with hiring people with disability. These include:

  • Employment Assistance Fund – financial assistance for workplace adjustments, accommodations and services such as Auslan interpreting, modifications to work vehicles, adaptive equipment, communication devices, disability awareness training and more.
  • Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support (DNAWS) – funding for Australian employers and training providers to support apprentices and trainees with disability.
  • Wage subsidies – financial help to cover the costs of employing a person with disability in the first few months.

For more information about the different funding options you could be eligible for, speak to the team at APM.

6. Work with a Disability Employment Services provider

Disability Employment Services is a program funded by the Australian Government that assists people living with an injury, illness or disability to find and keep employment. Providers such as APM work closely with jobseekers to find suitable job opportunities and access tailored, ongoing support in the workplace.

Disability Employment Services providers can also help support Australian employers and businesses by:

  • Connecting you with qualified candidates
  • Redesigning the workplace or job duties to be more accessible for employees with disability
  • Implementing and accessing funding for workplace accommodations
  • Applying for and accessing financial assistance
  • Providing ongoing support for you and your new employee
  • Disability inclusion training and advice

Find the best candidate for your job opening with APM

APM is Australia's largest provider of Disability Employment Services with over 500 locations across the country. We've seen firsthand how hiring people with disability has huge benefits for both employers and employees.

For more information about how to hire people with disability, access financial support and create a more diverse workforce, speak to the APM team on 1800 276 276.