Does It cost More To Hire People With Disabilities?

One of the main reasons employers are reluctant to hire persons with disabilities, is their perception that the costs of providing accommodations for them will be too high.  However, in an article on the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) WorkSupport website, they provide us with facts as to why this is not the case.  We shall look at these next.

The first misperception they identify is that it will cost the employer a large sum of money to accommodate disabled workers.  The reality is that most disabled workers do not require special accommodations and the accommodations for those that do are minimal.  The VCU website states that:

Studies by the Office of Disability Employment Policys Job Accommodation Network have shown that 15% of accommodations cost nothing, 51% cost between $1 and $500, 12% cost between $501 and $1,000, and 22% cost more than $1,000”.

In Rand terms, the costs of providing accommodations to disabled employees will be higher, but perhaps the South African government can assist employers in paying for the costs of these accommodations.  This is the case in Australia, for example.

The second misperception identified by the VCU website, is that 40% of employers insist that it is difficult or costly to provide accommodations to disabled workers.  However, the VCU website reported that for the majority of employers the cost of accommodations was $500 or less.  In addition, for the vast majority of employers (73%), no accommodations were required by their disabled workers.

The third misperception is that disabled workers will use more sick leave and be less productive than workers without disabilities, according to the VCU website.  This is not the case, as there is no difference in rates of absenteeism and sick leave between disabled and abled bodied workers.  Further, industry reports in the US consistently rate disabled workers as either average or above average in performance, quality and output of work, adaptability to demands, attendance and safety.

And fourthly, the VCU website states that employers view disabled workers as being unable to fulfil performance standards.  The website counters this perception by stating that a survey conducted by a researcher named DuPont in 1990 with 811 disabled employees, found that 90% rated average or better in job performance.  This is in comparison to 90% of abled bodied workers.

Thus given that there is no difference in productivity, rates of absenteeism and sick leave between disabled and abled bodied workers, and that most disabled workers do not even require any special accommodations or minimal accommodations, employers have no excuse not to employ persons with disabilities.

For those who wish to read the article in its entirety, it is entitled: “The Realities of Hiring People With Disabilities Fact Sheet”.  It can be found on