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Dive Deeper

 

Workforce/Workplace

  • Approximately15% of a firm’s workforce is either someone who has a disability or who has a child or other dependent with special needs. Mass General Hospital
  • 97% of all employers who had hired someone with a disability in the past indicated that they would hire an individual with a disability again in the future. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • 9% of a given company’s workforce is caring for a child with special needs. The Families and Work Institute
  • 30% of parents who are caring for a child with special needs, are forced to quit work altogether. Maternal and Child Health
  • Families caring for children with special needs (also known as Exceptional Caregiving) have specified what a supportive workplace would consist of. A few include more than 20.3 million families in the U.S. have at least one member with a disability. U.S. Department of Labor
  • There are more than 9 million children with special health care needs that live in the U.S. This means that 1 out of every 5 households is caring for a child with special health care. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • In a survey of nearly 200 employers, 64% of them said they knew for sure some employees in their office care for a child or adult with special needs. Association of Office Managers, APOM Foundation, and OfficeOurs Magazine
  • The employment rate of working-age people with disabilities in the U.S. is 36.9% as compared to 79.7% of working age people without disabilities. Ilr.Cornell.edu
  • 79% of people think employers should play a role in providing assistance to employees who care for a child or an adult with special needs. The Association of Professional Office Managers
  • Of this 79% of people, 52% believe an employer should incur modest assistance to employees who care for a child or adult with special needs. The Association of Professional Office Managers
  • At 19.3% the number of people with disabilities exceeds the next largest minority group-the Hispanic community (14.9%) by a fairly wide margin. U.S. Department of State International Programs
  • 42% of working-age men and 31% of working-age women (21 to 64) are employed and have a disability. U.S. Census Bureau
  • Nearly 42% of older adults (65+ years) have one or more disabilities. U.S. Census Bureau
  • In 2007, nearly 18,000 ADA related charges were filed with the EEOC. EEOC
  • The median earnings of working age people with disabilities who worked full time/full year in the U.S. is $34,200 as compared to $40,700 for working age people without disabilities. Ilr.cornell.edu
  • 30% of new entrants to the workforce will become disabled before retiring. Social Security Administration
  • Almost 40% of all complaints to the EEOC on the part of employees with disabilities are around harassment. EEOC
  • Nearly 14% of parents who have children with special needs spend more than ten hours per week to coordinate their child’s care. Sloan Work and Family Research Network
  • Nearly 25% of parents who have children with special needs have been fired at least once due to their child’s exceptional care needs. Sloan Work and Family Research Network
  • The average cost of an accommodation is less than $500 and most accommodations cost nothing. Job Accommodation Network
  • 73% of businesses report that their employees with disabilities do not require any accommodations at all and of those that do, 29% cost $100 or less. An Able Trust Employer Attitude Study

Companies world-wide are dealing with the issues of diversity and work-life balance. The dictionary defines diversity as difference. Many companies define it as women and people of color. What about an employee who has a disability or an employee who has a child or other dependent with special needs? These individuals are part of the largest minority market in the U.S., the special needs community. Just how many employees are we talking about? Approximately 9% of every company’s workforce has a child or other dependent with special needs. For a large company with 20,000 employees there would be approximately 1800 employees caring for a child or other dependent with special needs.

All parents love their children but caring for a disabled child can wear down even the most stoic among us. Due to the physical and emotional demands of caring for these children, it is difficult at best to maintain a “normal” schedule and lifestyle especially long term. These people can be very devoted employees, but can be continuously interrupted by trying to coordinate care, seek expert advice, and handle emergencies as they arise. This contributes to the fact that 30% of parents caring for a child with special needs are often forced to quit work altogether. Found in a 2001 survey by Maternal and Child Health (a division of HHS, Health and Human Services), this can be attributed to the lack of ability to juggle time and work. This places a huge strain on families especially since almost 32% of parents spend more than 40 hours a week attending to children with special needs, usually in addition to working their full or part-time job. While this schedule seems maddening it is often what people have to resort to in order to incur the high cost of attending to children with special needs. This is hard enough when there are two parents equally sharing these responsibilities but keep in mind the single parent who is caring for this child, furthering an already stressful situation. In fact, it’s been estimated that the divorce rate among couples who have children with special needs is a staggering 80%.

Families caring for children with special needs have specified what a supportive workplace would consist of. A few include:

  • Information about resources in the community.
  • On-site activities and materials targeted at their needs.
  • Clear and accessible information about workplace benefits and how they can be used to meet their families’ needs.
  • Supportive supervisors and managers
  • Flexibility in work hours, location, and scheduling.

There are many benefits which could come from these few suggestions. Employees that had supportive work-life policies and practices have been found to be more:

  • Satisfied with their jobs
  • Committed and loyal to their employers
  • Willing to work hard to help their employers succeed
  • Likely to stay with their employers

Many of the opportunities to meet the needs of these employees can be accomplished with little to no cost yet the cost to replace an employee averages 30 to 150 percent of his/her annual salary depending on skill level. Most employers prefer the former over the latter.