People with disabilities

Keynote address at the Forum on Return to Work of Persons with Work-Related Disabilities

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Forum on Return to Work of Persons with Work-Related Disabilities, Makati, Philippines, 28 November 2017

Statement | Makati, Philippines | 28 November 2017
  • Undersecretary Lagunzad of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE);
  • Ms Banawis of the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC);
  • Ms Henares- Angeles of the University of the Philippines;
  • Distinguished officials from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, civil society and the academe;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
On behalf of the ILO, it is an honour to keynote this significant gathering together with the Department of Labor and Employment. Thank you for the opportunity to address and to discuss ways towards win-win programmes for persons with work-related disabilities.

Let me also acknowledge the ECC, the Institute of Labor Studies, and UP CAMP for the exceptional partnership and joint efforts to help promote our common goals of ensuring decent and productive work opportunities for women and men with disabilities, particularly towards effective job retention and return to work strategies of persons with work-related disabilities.

Globally, there are over one billion persons with disabilities, of which 800 million are of working age. They are the largest minority, representing some 15 per cent of the global population. Meanwhile in the Philippines, there are 1,443 thousand persons with disabilities or 1.6 per cent of the total population.

What we have are estimates. The lack of available and up-to-date statistics is also part of the challenges towards inclusion. As such, we cannot have an exact picture to know and further assess the extent of inclusion of persons with disabilities in other mainstream social services and the effectiveness of existing programmes to address their issues and concerns.

Despite major gains in recent years, persons with disabilities continue to face significant challenges and barriers to equal opportunities and treatment in the world of work. They are still at higher risk of poverty and social exclusion around the world.

Inclusion in the workplace and labour market, as well as the society entails breaking those challenges and barriers.

The ILO has a longstanding commitment to promote decent work for people with disabilities in the pursuit of our social justice mandate. The ILO helped built momentum of disability inclusion through the ILO Global Business and Disability Network with multinational enterprises, employers’ organizations, national business and disability networks, civil society organizations and academia.

The ILO founded the GBDN in 2010 to facilitate dialogue and information exchange among companies and also with the ILO. To date, there are 20 companies, eight employers organizations, and six non-company/businesses, who signed the Global Business and Disability Charter.

Decent work for all means including people with disabilities, which is important in ending poverty in all forms to transform and build the world we want, which is a future where no one is left behind.

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.5 or achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities by 2030 can only be realized through the acceleration of disability-specific efforts.

This is aimed at overcoming particular disadvantages or barriers and ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream services and activities, such as skills training, employment promotion, social protection schemes, and poverty reduction strategies.

In the framework of international labour standards, the ILO promotes equality of opportunity and equal treatment for women and men with disabilities as well as non-discrimination.

While all international labour standards apply to persons with disabilities, those of significant relevance are ILO Conventions on:With regards to job retention and return to work of persons with work-related disabilities, the ILO highlights the need for more effective policies and practices in support of workers whose prospects of remaining in employment are jeopardized by work injury, illness or disability.

The ILO encourages and supports governments to facilitate the recruitment, retention and return to work of people with disabilities by assisting employers to identify public and private services on training and job placement, technical advisory and rehabilitation to name a few.

Disability inclusion provides a strong business case for employing people with disabilities since they are often qualified for a particular job. Employers may also gain by expanding the number of eligible workers through continuing the employment of those who become disabled, since valuable expertise acquired on the job and through work-related training is retained.

For the ILO, promoting decent work for people with disabilities is a key objective, and one which needs the active involvement of the private sector. Thus, we invite companies and employers organizations from the Philippines to join the ILO Global Business and Disability Network.

My colleague Esteban Tromel from the Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch of ILO in Geneva will talk more about this topic later in the session.

In closing, I feel that the ILO is very fortunate to be part of this exercise, especially since the discussion around challenges and opportunities for persons with disabilities is also a contribution to the Future of Work Initiative launched by the ILO in the framework of its forthcoming centenary.

We are grateful to the ECC, ILS and UP CAMP for making this study and forum possible and for your contributions to achieve decent and productive work for all.

It is my hope that our partnership will continue as we work together towards bringing significant improvements in the lives of persons with disabilities and the world of work.

I wish you all a productive and successful forum.

Thank you!