Do Workers with Disabilities Cost More?

Do Workers with Disabilities Cost More?

Employers in the U.S. hospitality industry are often reluctant to hire people with disabilities because of preconceived notions that they cannot do the jobs and are more costly to employ than people without disabilities, according to University of New Hampshire researchers.
In a survey of 320 U.S. hospitality companies, employers also cited the following concerns about hiring people with disabilities: the cost of workers' compensation; co-worker attitudes, discomfort and unfamiliarity; and lack of knowledge of the effectiveness of people with disabilities.

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.9 percent in January, compared with 8.7 percent for people without disabilities, U.S. Labor Department figures show.

Tax credits to offset accommodation costs may encourage companies to employ more people with disabilities, says Andrew Houtenviile, associate professor of economics and research director of the university's Institute of Disability.

Disability awareness training can help correct misconceptions, suggest Houtenville and coauthor Valentinin Kalagyrou, assistant professor of hospitality management. Earlier research shows that 71 percent of accommodations cost $500 or less, and 20 percent of those cost nothing, they note. Key to changing attitudes is getting top leaders on board, Houtenville says. "They're setting the vision for the company, and if that vision's not there, it's not necessarily going to happen," he explains. The study was published in the February issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, Business Services Industry.

Bibliography for: "Do workers with disabilities cost more?"

"Do workers with disabilities cost more?". HR Magazine. 14 May, 2012.

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