GIS - July 06, 2012:
The Training and Employment of Disabled Persons (Amendment) Bill introduced into the National Assembly this week will make better provision for the promotion of the access of persons with disabilities to employment.
Another objective of amending the Training and Employment of Disabled Persons Act of 1996 is to define a disabled person as someone with a long-term physical disfigurement which gives rise to barriers or prejudices impeding his participation at an equal level with other members of society in major life activities.
At a press conference, held in Port Louis yesterday, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions, Mrs. Sheilabai Bappoo, said that the amendment proposed is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which Mauritius has signed in 2007 and ratified in 2010. The country is under international obligations to adhere to the principles of the Convention which marks a paradigm shift from the medical model to the social and rights-based model regarding persons with disabilities.
The new model emphasises the abilities and competencies of persons with disabilities as opposed to the medical model which stresses on only their disabilities, said Mrs Bappoo.
She pointed out that since the promulgation of the Act in 1996, her Ministry has widely relied on persuasion, sensitisation and social dialogue vis-à-vis employers regarding the employment of persons with disabilities. However, this soft approach has not yielded so much the expected results, the Minister said. While some private sector enterprises and even parastatal bodies have opened their doors to persons with disabilities, she deplored that a vast majority has not played the game.
According to Mrs Bappoo, these amendments prove Government’s commitment to move towards an inclusive society where able and disabled persons alike enjoy equality and opportunities in the fulfillment of their aspirations.
In a bid to open additional avenues for the employment of disabled persons in the parastatal bodies as opposed to its existing application to the private sector only, the Bill defines the term ‘employer’ which will include ‘all statutory bodies with a workforce of 35 employees or more’.
Employers with more than 35 employees who are not employing disabled persons as per the prescribed 3 per cent will have to make a monthly contribution of Rs 4 000 for each disabled employee not recruited. The proceeds will be used by the Training and Employment of Disabled Persons Board solely for the purpose of enhancing training and employment opportunities for disabled persons. In addition, for those employers who are not abiding to the law, the fine is being brought from Rs 4 000 to Rs 75 000.