Philip Davies is right.
“If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn’t, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.
“Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.
“My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.
“If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”
Philip Davies is right.
But he is also very wrong.
The key point he made, and I’m glad he’s noticed this, is that employers will be less likely to take on a disabled employee over a non disabled. And personally, I think it will make little difference how much, or how little, they can get away with paying someone.
The reason why they are less likely to hire a disabled person is precisely what Philip Davies got wrong. They both have the misconception that disabled people are somehow ‘less productive’ than non disabled people.
Research carried out in the UK, USA, Australia and the Netherlands has shown that disabled people compare favourably with non disabled in the workplace.
Disabled people were rated the same as or better than non-disabled co-workers on punctuality; attendance; work quality; task consistency; overall proficiency, with slightly lower scores on work speed.
- 90% of employees with a disability record productivity rates equal to or greater than other workers.
- 98% have average or superior safety records.
- 86% have average or superior attendance records
A study conducted on behalf of Telstra Australia in 1999 found that:
- People with a disability worked on average 4.1 years in a call centre, compared to 3.2 years for people without a disability.
- Over a 15-month period, people with a disability had 11.8 days absent, compared to people without a disability who had 19.24 days absent.
- There were no significant differences when comparing people with a disability to people without a disability in the areas of performance, productivity and sales.
So the issue here is not the productivity of disabled workers, but rather the misconceptions about their productivity. Which Mr Davies has kindly added to. I would suggest, rather than finding ways to further devalue and demean us in the eyes of the general public, he could focus instead on educating employers about the benefits of hiring us.