The disabled – the South African conundrum?

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Dr Ivor Blumenthal | CEO | ArkKonsult | mail me |


PART 1 OF A 3-PART SERIES 

There are multiple benefits which companies can derive either in employing people with disabilities, or in procuring goods or services from them within the businesses supply chain.

So, if that’s the case, then why are people with disabilities not being employed in-proportion to the rest of the workforce which Government has pegged at 2.5% of a company’s headcount or 25% of the actual proportion of the disabled to mainstreamed workforce. Importantly why are companies simply not buying from businesses owned and run by people with disabilities when there is no difference between the goods or services on offer from those entrepreneurs and business people?

Is it prejudice? Or fear of what it is a person with disabilities truly represents, namely the vulnerable in society? Those people who for the most part is hidden, out of sight and therefore who in our minds only exist in fantasies and maybe even horror stories?

In a country of 55 million people at least 5 million, or 10%, have either a mental or physical disability. Their lives are an abject misery. They are not able to make a living to support themselves and so they are totally dependent on Social Grants from a Government that does not have the necessary resources to make those meaningful Social Grants.

Categories

Looking at the breadth and scope of just how many categories of disabilities there actually are, and how many people are therefore classified into those disability categories, no business person has the luxury of looking the other way.

NEDLAC is where Business and Labour Representatives thrash out Laws, Regulations and South Africa’s Policy Framework. They work with Government Departments, which in this instance are Trade and Industry and Labour to create work and trading opportunities with people with disabilities both desirable and frankly opportunistic for the average business owner.

Financial benefits

Consequently there are massive Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment or BBBEE advantages which accrue to a company employing and training disabled people.

Companies are asked to target 2.5% of headcount being disabled people on Learnerships and Internships and then employing them. In that context, there are also financial benefits where as an example whereas as an example a tax benefit for a traditional Learnership 12H Tax deduction is for R80,000, one for a disabled person is R120,000 or a 50% premium. At the typical company tax rate that equates to a saving of R33,600 instead of R22,400 per Learner or Intern.

The right thing

Forget though about the financial or BBBEE benefits which accrue from doing the right thing by Disabled people. Think rather about


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