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Thematic report on Work and Employment of Persons with Disabilities

27 December 2012
To the HRC at its 22nd session, 6 March 2013


In its resolution 19/11, the Human Rights Council has requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a thematic study on work and employment of persons with disabilities for consideration at the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council.


The right to work is a fundamental right. It is essential for realising other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity. Every individual has the right to be able to work, allowing him/her to live in dignity. The right to work contributes at the same time to the survival of the individual and to that of his/her family, and insofar as work is freely chosen or accepted, to his/her development and recognition within the community.

Notwithstanding these international normative safeguards, the labour force participation rate of persons with disabilities continues to be low in most countries. When persons with disabilities are employed, they are more likely to be in low-paying jobs, at lower occupational levels and with poor promotional prospects and working conditions. One of the core challenges lies in negative attitudes, stigma and stereotypes of persons with disabilities being in some way �unsuitable� to participation in working life, on an equal basis with others. This translates into continued marginalization and discrimination of persons with disabilities in the area of work and employment, and for many persons with disabilities, denial of their right to work.

According to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), persons with disabilities have the right to work on an equal basis with others. This includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. Article 27 of the CRPD requires States parties to take adequate measures to safeguard and promote the realisation of the right to work of persons with disabilities, including

  • prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions;
  • protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to just and favourable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redress of grievances;
  • enabling persons with disabilities to have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programmes, placement services and vocational and continuing training;
  • promoting employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the open labour market, both in the public and private sectors; and
  • ensuring that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace.

Inputs received

In preparation of the study, OHCHR invited States and relevant stakeholders to present submissions by transmitting a set of questions related to existing legislation, policies and practices regarding work and employment of persons with disabilities. As a result, OHCHR received the responses listed below.

Member States

Intergovernmental Organizations

National Human Rights Institutions

NGOs and Civil Society Organizations