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According to Smartree Romania, a leading provider of outsourcing payroll services and personnel administration in Romania, the legislative amendments brought by the Emergency Ordinance 60/2017, aimed at people with disabilities, determines employers to rethink their strategy related to this topic.
In order to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities, companies with at least 50 employees are required to employ this category of people, at least 4% of the total number of employees. Otherwise, prior to the Ordinance, companies were allowed to opt for a monthly payment to the state budget of an amount equivalent to 50% of the country’s minimum gross salary guaranteed in payment, multiplied by the number of jobs in which they did not employed people with disabilities. Employers also had the option to purchase products or services from authorized licensed units in an amount equivalent to the one owed to the state budget.
According to Smartree specialists, following the publication of the Emergency Ordinance in the Official Monitor no. 648, the amount owed to the state budget has doubled and the possibility to purchase products from protected units no longer exists. Thus, the activity of over 700 protected units currently existing will be negatively affected, in the sense that they will compete directly with the rest of the non-protected companies that offer the same type of products and services. With the new provisions, protected units without legal entity will only be able to function within public institutions. In other words, a facility for the existing protected units without legal entity, set up by a disabled person, authorized to carry out independent economic activities, disappears.
In recent years, the number of companies that have used the services offered by protected units has increased significantly, as well as the diversity of services provided by these units. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice, most of the protected units are dealing with sales and intermediation of goods, packaging, but also textile products manufacturing.
„Protected units have tried over time to adapt to the needs of employers by offering them a wide range of services and products, starting from training programs, office massages to products made by people with disabilities, such as textile products. Following the new law provisions, that revoke the option to work with protected units for tax purposes, theoretically, employers, especially those with a large number of employees, will consider hiring people with disabilities,” added Raluca Penes, Smartree HR Coordinator.
Another amendment brought by the new normative act is that public authorities and institutions will have to organize employment competitions exclusively for disabled persons, in compliance with the legal provisions in force.
Employment incentive solutions for people with disabilities
According to Smartree specialists, there are several solutions to encourage the employment of people with disabilities. Such a solution is to set up schools and professional programs for people with disabilities for specific occupations to meet the current needs of organizations. Thus, facilitating access to education for people with disabilities, guidance and training services, various teaching materials tailored to their needs, depending on the type and severity of disability, assistive technologies and equipment can contribute to the personal and professional development of the persons concerned.
“Currently, companies do not have genuine disability-specific professional integration support programs. Persons with special needs have the right to benefit from all the conditions to choose and exercise their profession. Thus, depending on the degree of disability of the person, employers have to provide personal assistance so as to offer support for the professional activity,” added Raluca Penes, HR Smartree Coordinator.
However, in recent years, in some areas where operational flows can be supported by people with disabilities we can notice a high representation of these people in retail, cashier, accountancy, tailoring or other jobs depending both on the type and the degree of disability. However, the data provided by the authorities indicate a low representation of disabled people on the labor market in Romania, in general.
According to the National Authority for Disabled Persons, on 31st December 2016 the total number of persons with disabilities was 786,546 persons, or 3.54% of the Romanian population. Out of these, 706,401 are adults, the rest of 62,066 are children. At the end of 2016, the total number of persons with disabilities employed was 33,449, and the employment rate was 17,97% of the total number of people who could be employed.
According to Smartree representatives, another solution that can help boost employment for this category of people is providing support and advice on topics such as CV writing, interviewing options, selection and application for a workplace, but also a better promotion of channels especially dedicated to these people, such as specialized job sites or organizations.