Berlin (dpa) – Millions of people with disabilities in Germany are at risk of poverty, hundreds of thousands are unemployed – and the corona pandemic has exacerbated the problem.
On the day of people with disabilities this Thursday, calls for the federal government to do more for those affected are getting louder. Barriers to the labor market should be removed.
The federal commissioner for the issue of people with disabilities, Jürgen Dusel, indirectly accused the federal government of not doing anything about the problem. He demanded “that they not only recognize the problem, but act courageously and quickly”. Policy for people with disabilities is part of the Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD). One of Dusel’s duties in government is to encourage legislative changes. But he cannot prescribe anything. Dusel has been severely visually impaired from birth.
“People with disabilities are more affected by unemployment during the corona pandemic than people without disabilities,” said Dusel of the German news agency. Dusel pointed to the equalization levy for companies that do not employ employees with a serious disability. The federal government must increase the equalization tax, he demanded. With this tax, employers have to pay something if they do not employ a prescribed number of severely disabled people.
The labor market policy spokeswoman for the left-wing parliamentary group, Sabine Zimmermann, told the DPA that something effective must finally be done against the disadvantage of people with disabilities in the labor market. “Unemployment is the main reason for poverty.”
IG Metall called on companies to meet at least their legal labor quota of five percent for people with disabilities. “Nationwide this is currently an average of 4.6 percent, in the private sector only 4.1 percent,” said Hans-Jürgen Urban of the dpa. “That underscores how far we are from an inclusive work world.”
According to a recent study by Aktion Mensch and the Handelsblatt Research Institute, the number of unemployed people with severe disabilities in Germany was about 13 percent higher in October than in the same month last year. In total, 10.9 percent of people with severe disabilities were unemployed last year. In contrast, it was only 6.2 percent of the total population.
People with disabilities are also much more affected by the risk of poverty. Of the 12.8 million people with a disability, 18 percent recently had an income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. That was about 2.3 million people in Germany. This was 15 percent of people without disabilities. These figures, which Zimmermann asked the federal government, are from 2017. There are no new ones.
Urban pointed out that severe disability can affect anyone – even over a lifetime: “Only three percent of disabilities are congenital, most caused by accident, illness or wear and tear.”
Dusel looked ahead to the post-pandemic times, when the economy will pick up again and the labor market will be more relaxed. Even then, experience shows that it will be more difficult for people with disabilities to find a good new job. “Not because they are not sufficiently qualified, but because they face countless obstacles.”
Zimmermann called on the government to increase the mandatory quota for hiring people with disabilities from 5 to 6 percent. The equalizing charge must also be increased. Zimmermann also appealed to employers, namely “to give more people with disabilities a chance”.