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Hiring Persons with Disabilities

Posted on December 22, 2019 by Ann

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Persons with disabilities contribute meaningfully when companies focus on their abilities and the job match is done right. Disability-inclusive employment practices improve and enrich lives beyond the workplace.

For the inclusive employers and employees with disabilities, this article provides useful information on various policies, guides, and programmes related to hiring and sustaining persons with disabilities.


Funding and Support

Open Door Programme (ODP) Grant (by Ministry of Social and Family Development and Workforce Singapore)

This is a government-funded initiative that encourages employers to hire, train, and integrate persons with disabilities through grants and employment support services. These include:

1. Job Redesign Grant for Employee/s with Disabilities: This grant helps employers to recruit and retain persons with disabilities by supporting up to 90% of the job redesign costs, capped at $20,000 per employee with disability. It can be used to defray the cost for job redesign initiatives such as purchase of equipment and workplace modifications.

2. Training Grant: Employers can receive funding of up to 90% of the course fee when they send their employees with disabilities for training courses or when they send their employees without disabilities to attend workshops/courses to build confidence in working with colleagues with disabilities (e.g. sign language courses, disability awareness workshop).

3. Recruitment, Job Placement, and Job Support Services: Employers who register on the ODP Job Portal, will receive recruitment assistance from SG Enable and its appointed partners. For every person with disabilities placed by them, up to 1 year of job support will be provided.

4. Special Employment Credit (SEC): ​To support employment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the SEC was extended to employers that hire PWDs of all ages in 2012. The SEC for PWDs is set at 16% of the employee’s monthly income, up to $240 per month.​

5. Inclusive Business Programme: This programme supports inclusive businesses through direct allocation of HDB shop spaces, where at least 20% of hired workforce are persons with disabilities. In addition, SMEs will enjoy a 20% rental discount for their first three years of tenancy.

Link: https://employment.sgenable.sg/employers/open-door-programme/

Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme (by Ministry of Manpower, Central Provident Fund, and Workforce Singapore)

Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) provides eligible Singaporean workers with CPF top-ups to help them save for retirement and cash to supplement their income. All persons with disabilities qualify for WIS.

Link: https://www.workfare.gov.sg/Pages/WIS-Eligibility-Criteria.aspx


Employers’ Guides and Tools

Starter Kit for Employers (by SG Enable)

This starter kit helps to better equip employers with relevant knowledge and information. It also highlights some of the key considerations in hiring and sustaining persons with disabilities.

Link: http://sgenableprod.s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/19094943/Starter-Kit-for-Disability-Employment-Latest.pdf

Job Redesign Guide for Inclusive Employers (by SG Enable with Ministry of Manpower)

This guide aims to help employers understand how to redesign jobs to better support and integrate employees with disabilities in the workplace.

It explains what job redesign is, how to implement it, and has case studies of organisations with best practices in job redesign. It also includes information on available grants and support for employers.

Link: https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/sgenableprod/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/20020718/SGE_JobRedesignGuide.pdf

Online HRM Series for Employers (by SG Enable)

This website contains a series of HRM guides to equip employers with practical self-help tips to build up their capabilities and programmes to hire, retain and develop persons with disabilities in their workforce. These include:

1. Recruitment and Hiring Guide: This guide allows employers and HR professionals to learn more about the different types of disabilities, examine the current recruitment processes and procedures in the company, the types of jobs that would be suitable for persons with disabilities, and how employers can employ and integrate persons with disabilities into their organisations.

2. Job Accommodation and Workplace Accessibility: This guide allows employers and HR professionals to understand the basics and benefits of accommodation and accessibility, as well as the role of employers and considerations necessary to put in place an accommodation process.

3. Assistive Technology and e-Accessibility: This guide allows employers, HR professionals and persons with disabilities to understand the different types of assistive technology devices and the functions which they serve. It also includes guidelines regarding the adoption and implementation of assistive technology as well as some of the basics of providing accessible content.

4. Career Development and Retention of Employees with Disabilities: This guide assists employers and supervisors to plan for the career development and retention of employees with disabilities in their organisations.

Note that registration is necessary to receive a copy of these guides.

Link: https://employment.sgenable.sg/employers/online-hrm-series/

BenchmarkAbility® : a Workplace Disability Inclusive Index (by SG Enable and Cornell University)

This is an assessment tool that was jointly developed by SG Enable and Cornell University, and supported by Singapore Business Federation Foundation (SBFF). It allows employers to assess their readiness for inclusive hiring and identify areas for improvement while providing practical tips and useful resources.

Link: https://singapore.benchmarkability.org/

Enabling Work App (by Singapore Business Network on Disability)

Designed to promote and create better awareness for inclusive employment in Singapore, this app provides simple, fun interactive learning and empathy training for companies and their staff to interact with and support colleagues with special needs.

Link: https://www.sbnod.com/stories-1/2019/7/14/understanding-disability-at-the-workplace

Creating a More Inclusive Workplace For Persons With Disabilities (by TAFEP)

This article by TAFEP lists some ways employers can create opportunities for employees with disabilities.

Link: https://www.tal.sg/tafep/Resources/Articles/2019/Creating-a-More-Inclusive-Workplace-For-Persons-With-Disabilities

Training and Other Related Programmes

Workfare Training Suport (WTS) Scheme (by Workforce Singapore)

This scheme encourages individuals to attend training to upgrade their work skills and improve their employability. Persons with disabilities who are Singapore citizens, aged 13 years and above and earn an average gross monthly income of not more than $2,000 for the months worked are eligible for the scheme. Eligible individuals may receive the following:

      • course fee subsidy to lower training costs,
      • training allowance when training is relevant to their job and individuals had paid for their own training; and
      • a cash reward for completing the training.

Link: https://www.wsg.gov.sg/programmes-and-initiatives/workfare-training-support-individuals.html

School-to-Work (S2W) Transition Programme (by SG Enable, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social and Family Development)

This programme aims to bridge students’ transition from Special Education (SPED) schools to the workplace by offering more customised training pathways for students with diverse disability profiles.

Link: https://www.moe.gov.sg/docs/default-source/document/education/special-education/files/s2w-brochure.pdf

Transition to Employment (TTE) Programme (by SPD)

This is a community-based return-to-work programme to re-integrate people with acquired physical disabilities back to mainstream workforce. The programme will be tailored according to individual needs by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and employment support specialists.

Link: https://www.spd.org.sg/transition-to-employment/

Usage of Post-Secondary Edusave Account for Training Courses (by Ministry of Education)

The Post-Secondary Edusave Account can be used to pay for training courses for persons with disabilities under SG Enable.

Link: https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/press-releases/expansion-of-usage-of-post-secondary-education-account-psea-to-support-skills-mastery-and-lifelong-learning-for-all-singaporeans

Hospital-to-Work Programme (by SG Enable)

This programmes provides persons with acquired disabilities (intellectual disability, physical disability, hearing impairment, and visual impairment) with support and opportunities to overcome the challenges in gaining sustainable employment. Support is coordinated through a H2W Case Manager who will focus support on a client’s skills enhancements or re-skilling, complemented by employment services such as job placement and job support.

Link: https://employment.sgenable.sg/jobseekers/hospital-to-work-programme/

SkillsFuture Study Award for Persons with Disabilities (by SkillsFuture)

Role models who have demonstrated resilience and perseverance in pursuing their learning to achieve their full potential in life will receive a monetary award of S$5,000, which can be used to defray out-of-pocket expenses associated with the course that the recipient will be taking. It can also be used on top of existing Government course fee subsidies.

Link: https://employment.sgenable.sg/training/skillsfuture-study-award-pwds/

General Policies

3rd Enabling Masterplan 2017-2021: Caring Nation, Inclusive Society (by 3rd Enabling Masterplan Steering Committee)

The 3rd Enabling Masterplan is a 5-year multi-faceted plan to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities, support their caregivers, and build a community that is more caring and inclusive. It contains recommendations and proposed strategies that have been endorsed by persons with disabilities, caregivers, leaders and professionals in the disability field, voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and government agencies.

Link: https://www.ncss.gov.sg/NCSS/media/NCSS-Documents-and-Forms/EM3-Final_Report_20161219.pdf

Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) Guidelines (by TAFEP)

At the moment, disability is not a statutorily protected characteristic in Singapore. TAFEP guidelines encourage employers to treat employees on merit, regardless of disability. General guidelines for fair and progressive employment practices are available on their website.

Link: https://www.tal.sg/tafep/Employment-Practices


ESM Goh suggests tax incentives for employers who hire those with disabilities (16 January 2019)

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong suggested that employers could perhaps be offered double tax deduction on the salaries of workers with disabilities. Under the Ministry of Manpower’s labour quota system, having a Singaporean employee with disabilities could perhaps count as two Singaporeans when calculating the number of foreign workers a firm is able to hire, Mr Goh proposed.

Link: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/esm-goh-suggests-tax-incentives-employers-who-hire-those-disabilities

Hiring persons with disabilities: Quota won’t work, says MSF (11 Feb 2019)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/DisabledPeoplesAssociation/posts/2009630829156639

LETTER: Why setting hiring quota will help people with disabilities (15 Feb 2019)

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/why-setting-hiring-quota-will-help-people-with-disabilities

Denise Phua’s Budget COS 2019 debate speech on “Lifelong Education for Students with Special Education Needs (SEN)” (6 March 2019)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/denisephuapage/posts/3055376034476414

Persons with disabilities not part of public sector headcount: Chan Chun Sing (6 March 2019)

Public sector agencies can hire as many persons with special needs as they want as such employees are not counted towards their staff headcounts, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament. Mr Chan was responding to a question from Ms Denise Phua, Member of Parliament (MP) for Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency, on whether he would consider setting a target for the public sector to hire persons with special needs to make it more inclusive.

Link: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/persons-disabilities-not-part-public-sector-headcount-encourage-inclusivity-chan-chun-sing

Why not enable people with disabilities to become teachers of kids with special needs? (27 May 2019)

“These requirements actually mean it is very unlikely we have people with disabilities as early childhood educators in the classrooms and no role models with disabilities for the young children,” Nix Sang wrote. “Doors also seem to be shut for those who would like to go into any non-teaching positions related to the sector.”

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/enable-us-to-help-kids-with-special-needs-say-those-with-disabilities

What are the carrots offered to firms that hire those with disabilities? (27 July 2019)

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/more-carrots-offered-to-firms-that-hire-those-with-disabilities

Parliament: More than one-quarter of people with disabilities are employed in Singapore (2 September 2019)

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-more-than-one-quarter-of-people-with-disabilities-are-employed



This article referred heavily to Eric’s “Reading Materials for Autism Advocates“, which is a selection of reading materials for the panelists of the Life After Death Autism Forum 2019. Our thanks to Eric for generously allowing us to republish part of his content.

Eric is one of Singapore’s first autistic autism advocate. After started on his autism advocacy journey by appearing in the Straits Times in 2002, Eric has done about 100 autism sharing, most of which are at various cities in Greater China.

Eric is a key founder of the WhatsApp Autism Community Singapore, an inclusive autism support network comprising over 20 groups.

Eric is currently employed full-time doing IT and psychometric work. He is actively upgrading his formal qualifications, starting with studying for a Specialist Diploma in Applied Drama and Psychology. He wishes to empower autistics like himself to achieve their dreams in a pragmatic manner.

Read more …

Interview with Rich Donovan, Top 50 Most Influential People with Disability

A Kinder and More Caring Society? Let’s Start with Our Children

All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.