- Reasonable Accommodation Fund provides grants to adapt premises as well as purchase of specialised equipment for employees
- Minister urges people with disabilities, employers and representative groups to make their views known on how existing scheme can be improved to increase take-up
The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has has launched a public consultation on the review of her department’s Reasonable Accommodation Fund grants scheme.
The public consultation will run over the next 4 weeks until Friday, 29 April 2022.
The Reasonable Accommodation Fund grants are available to employers, employees, jobseekers and the self-employed.
The grants support workplaces to take appropriate measures to ensure that a person with a disability is provided with equal employment opportunities by providing the following grants:
- Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant – funds premises adaptations, specialised equipment, and assistive technology training
- Job Interview Interpreter Grant – funds an interpreter to accompany a person with hearing loss or speech impairment to a job interview and/or induction training
- Personal Reader Grant – funds a personal reader to assist someone who is blind or visually impaired in their work
- Employee Retention Grant – helps employers retain employees who acquire a disability, funds identification of accommodations, training or re-training
The public consultation forms part of a review being undertaken under the government’s ‘Action Plan for the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities’ to ensure that people with disabilities who want to and are able to work are supported and enabled to do so.
Minister Humphreys said:
These grants provide financial support for jobseekers and employees with disabilities and also for employers and the self-employed to help them make workplaces more accessible. Inclusion benefits everyone, businesses, individuals, and society, so I want to encourage as many people as possible to tell us what they think of this scheme.
These grants provide money to help make workplaces more accessible. This means that people with disabilities will find it easier to take on employment and importantly to stay in employment. They also encourage employers to experience the many benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Unfortunately, take-up of the scheme to date has been low and that’s why I am launching a public consultation.
I strongly encourage people with disabilities, employers, representative groups and the wider public to share your views on the current Reasonable Accommodation Fund and what steps can be taken to improve the fund and encourage wider take-up of the scheme.”
The Minister added:
As Minister for Social Protection, I have taken a number of steps to help people with disabilities into employment. In Budget 2022 I increased the Wage Subsidy Scheme for people with disabilities. Alongside this, through the consultation I am announcing today, I want to hear how we can build on and improve another important grant scheme – the Reasonable Accommodation Fund – so that more people with disabilities are supported into the workforce.
Above all, I want to see a broad range of submissions with ideas on how this support can be developed for the benefit of people with disabilities who take up work.It is most important that we develop better supports, which have the capacity to ensure that people with disabilities can avail of employment opportunities.
The survey and information about the public consultation are available at www.gov.ie/rafsurvey.
The department will publish a report with a summary of the written submissions and survey results, later this year.
Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 employers must provide reasonable accommodations to both employment candidates and employees with disabilities, unless these measures would impose a disproportionate burden on them.
The Department of Social Protection is committed to enabling people with a disability to work. In recent years it has introduced a number of improved measures:
- people receiving a Disability Allowance or Blind Pension can take up work and continue to receive their full allowance or a reduced rate depending on their earnings
- where a person closes a claim for a disability payment from the Department of Social Protection to enter employment, arrangements are in place to have their welfare payment restored quickly should they need to revert within 12 months
- where a person closes a claim for a disability payment and stays in employment, they retain their free travel pass for five years
Budget 2022 introduced significant changes to allow people to earn more while continuing to keep a greater proportion of their disability payments:
- it has provided for the earnings disregard of Disability Allowance and Blind Pension to increase from €120 to €140 a week with effect from June this year
- similarly, the upper limit of earnings that applies to these schemes will increase from €350 a week to €375 a week, also commencing in June
Budget 2022 also increased the rate of the Wage Subsidy Scheme from €5.30 to €6.30 an hour on the 1 January 2022.
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