There are many myths and misconceptions that surround employing people with disabilities. We spoke with local employers who successfully employ people with disabilities about these myths and misconceptions, and in this section they answer some of the more prevalent questions that typically arise.
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Is it difficult or expensive to accommodate employees with disabilities?
- “There were some costs preconceptions that were associated with specialized equipment and programs, however we found these to be minimal. People tend to think it will cost a great deal of money to accommodate those with disabilities when really the cost is minimal. Another factor is time to train and the time it might take for someone with a disability to complete a task. It may take them a little longer but the quality is there and it is well worth the investment.” - Joe Hoffer, Partner Cohen Highley LLP
- “We have to make accommodations for almost all of our employees in some form or another. For instance, we installed ergonomic workstations for all of our administrative staff. We have absolutely spent more on that than on any accommodations for people with disabilities.” - Betty Holme, Past Director of Corporate Services for the London Convention Centre
- “I realized how easy it is to accommodate employees with disabilities once you switch your mindset” - Jamie Lee Arseneau, Volunteer Coordinator Habitat for Humanity London
- “There are sometimes accommodations that need to be made, but once they are, the individual’s abilities can really shine.” - Jacky Hamden, Owner Pearl Shine
- “I have found that employers are often concerned about the cost of accommodating a person with a disability. The reality is that many employees with disabilities do not require accommodation & for those that do the cost is usually minimal.” - Emily Davies, Employment Specialist ATN Access
- FACT: There is very often no cost associated to employ people with disabilities.
Is the employee turnover rate high for those with disabilities?
- “This industry often sees high staff turnover. I wanted to create an environment where all are respected. This has resulted in employee retention and a sense of family.” - Ian Kennard, Owner Willie’s Café
- “One of the greatest benefits of hiring employees with disabilities is lower cost. There are significant costs associated with employee turnover. The longer an employee stays with us, the more our company benefits. The tenure of our employees with disabilities is five times greater than our other employees. People with disabilities have to work very hard to get a job and when they do get one, it is precious to them. They are very unlikely to resign or move to another company.” - Mark Wafer, Franchise Owner Tim Hortons (7 locations)
- FACT: Employee turnover is shown to be much lower among employees with disabilities.
Are higher levels of supervision required for employees with disabilities?
- “There was some concern that we would have to spend undue time in training and supervision of the individuals; however those concerns were unwarranted.” - Joe Hoffer, Partner Cohen Highley LLP
- “Her approach to ensure everything is completed is outstanding. There have been situations where she knew she would not complete the tasks given the amount of work to be completed and she has worked hard to complete the tasks and if that was not possible within the time allotted she would let me know and we would develop a solution, either staying later or someone else pitching in. I never have to worry about her tasks, they are always done. That is refreshing.” - Brent Barr, Owner Westmount Neighbourhood Pet Clinic
- “When he came to us last year and I talked to him, I figured out very quickly how independent Chris is.” - Scott Preece, Supervisor of Operations for Parks and Recreation for the City of London
- “Robert is a hard worker. It’s a busy facility and to take care of all the customers that we have and to get their cars washed and try to get them washed on time is very difficult. It’s nice to have someone like Robert here, who’s committed to doing a great job. Robert is very independent and he’s been doing that work himself so it’s freed up the time we have in the shop.” - John Rossini, Service Manager Toyota Town
- FACT: Employees with disabilities generally do not require higher levels of supervision in the workplace and are often given excellent job performance reviews.
Will I be able to fire an employee with a disability should the need arise?
- “There have been occasions where we have terminated the employment of some persons with a disability and the process is the same as it is for any other employee. In a case where the position was phased out, it was simple termination with pay in lieu of notice. In a case where the individual had operational issues, termination was the same as for any other employee. Our employment of persons with disabilities, in all respects, has been positive, as has our termination of persons with disabilities on those few occasions where it has been necessary.” - Joe Hoffer, Partner Cohen Highley LLP
- FACT: All employees may be equally terminated as the final step in a well documented process of progressive discipline.
What types of jobs are suitable for employees with disabilities?
- “Office Courier and Lawyer are examples of the positions that have been filled by people who have a disability and who continue to occupy those positions.” Joe Hoffer, Partner Cohen Highley LLP
- “Our team member has a list of regular tasks that need to be filled. She does what we call Disease Management which is for most people cleaning but it is critical for the health of our clinic. We need to clean it from top to bottom regularly to ensure no transmission of any disease. She is critical in this as she has a zone to care for and does it with absolute precision. She also cares for our furry family members (patients) when they wake up from surgery by taking them out for walks. She helps manage inventory through receiving orders and putting them away. Our clinic could not function without her.” - Brent Barr, Owner Westmount Neighbourhood Pet Clinic
- “We’ve gained a great young man. He collects documentation from literally every part of the department and interacts with everyone. His position carries with it a lot of responsibility.”- Chief Brad Duncan, London Police Services
- FACT: People with disabilities are employed in small to large businesses across the country in various roles in every industry sector.
Will employees with disabilities be safe in the workplace?
- “Initially we had some minor concerns due to misperception whether the environment would be safe at Stax. We maintained a physiologically safe work environment, and our employees with disabilities proved to be reliable and conscience.” - Donna Hodgins, Co-Owner Stax Packaging Services Inc.
- FACT: Statistics demonstrate employees with disabilities meet or exceed the safety and attendance records of their coworkers.
Will employees with disabilities have a higher level of absenteeism?
- “Some common preconceptions of employees with disabilities are that they will not show up for work, but at Stax we know this not to be true.” - Donna Hodgins, Co-Owner Stax Packaging Services Inc.
- FACT: Employees with disabilities are not absent any more than employees without disabilities, and often have fewer absences than their coworkers.
How will employees with disabilities fit into our workplace and team?
- “I have seen many employees with disabilities achieve success in their careers. Some of them are now managing teams and businesses. There is no better feeling than sharing in their accomplishments.” - Sharlene Decloux, TD Canada Trust District Vice President for London East Area
- “We could not be happier and our clinic would not be the same without her. She has become a valuable member within our team and everyone loves working with her. Over time she has expanded her tasks and continues to add more value to the team. She has been with us for over two years and I hope for many more.” - Brent Barr, Owner Westmount Neighbourhood Pet Clinic
- “A lot of my other staff interact with Labatt Park staff as well. It’s important that they see someone like Chris who has a disability but is just one of the guys. Who is just part of the team and does everything we ask of him and he has a great personality and a great sense of humour and people really enjoy his company. It’s important people see that.” - Scott Preece, Supervisor of Operations for Parks and Recreation for the City of London
- “Kevin is very engaging. There are lots of folks here who now know Kevin on a more personal basis. We have employees that go to watch him at his ball games and gather for birthday parties at his home. He truly gets embraced.” - Chief Brad Duncan, London Police Services
- FACT: A diverse work team that includes employees with disabilities creates a wider range of solutions to business issues and these teams are often more innovative and creative.
What are other ways my business will benefit by hiring employees with disabilities?
- “In cases of “evident disabilities” we experienced a range of positive outcomes: increased productivity for existing personnel; a positive contribution to law firm “culture”; increased positive comments from our clients/customers; and positive public recognition for having hired persons with disabilities.” - Joe Hoffer, Partner Cohen Highley LLP
- “When you work with a diverse group it’s easier to deal with diverse client needs because you’re already used to dealing with people in different ways on a regular basis. Our employees take the same philosophy of dealing with their teammates to dealing with their clients. It’s a smoother transition for our clients. Because our staff are so used to accommodating individual needs, providing similar customization for our client’s needs becomes second nature. And the happier our clients are, the more they do business with us.” - Betty Holme, Past Director of Corporate Services for the London Convention Centre
- FACT: 78% of Canadians say that they are more likely to buy a product or service from a business that has a policy of hiring people with disabilities.