Making Inclusion a reality- Social Justice and
decent employment for People with Disabilities:
Windhoek, Namibia. 21-23 October, 2013.
The Holistic Approach of Diversity in Employment
and, the Role of People with Disabilities.
South Africa
Barbara Watson
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Situation analysis
Legal Framework and Implementation
Role of government
Tools for disability mainstreaming.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
To understand why the holistic approach to diversity today in SA you must understand what SA
was before 1994 at a social, political and economic level.
Colonialism and apartheid left a legacy of inequalities, divisions and racial polarisation. These led
to the creation of a country of two nations: one poor and black the other rich and whit
Workplace diversity which included appointing women and people with disabilities were not
considered and or disability, these either belonged to sheltered employment or pension recipients.
They were consumers of services and not contributors.
The administrative system and labour markets were designed and functioned on the basis of
racial exclusivity with white males the leaders. To date, race and gender are still determinants of
success ; this applies to disability too. “deep hole syndrome”: things get darker as you go deeper.
In the public service then, the dominant model used to address disability was medical; if medicine
could not fix you, you had to go or join sheltered workshops. For blacks, it meant pension as
sheltered employment measures were very limited and inadequate.
The democratic government had to: unite the divided nation; entrench rights and civil liberties in
our statutes, labour practices must reflect these values and
There must be redress measures across the board for those historically disadvantaged including
people with disabilities. This is why the human rights approach to disability management and
valuing of diversity is so central to South Africa’s transformation and development agenda.
Because of the perception of being “useless”, exclusion of people with disabilities, stigma and
discrimination took root in communities, society without question.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Situation analysis
The situation of PWD reflects the same pattern as that of other historically disadvantaged groups
with race and gender as determinants to access and opportunities. A white male with disability
has a greater chance of being a top manager anywhere than a black woman with a disability.
According to the market analysis by the Commission on Employment Equity 2012 report, disabled
people constitute 1.4% of the 6 million workforce. Under the category of professionally qualified
persons, disabled people constitute 1.6% and 2.6% under skilled workers.
At the top management level, they make up1.8% and 1.6% at senior management. White males
dominate in these two categories.
In the public service, the figure is 0.41% of the required 2% employment equity target.
This picture though not perfect, does present a positive change of moving forward. The spread of
excellence and recognition of PWD across sectors has been reflected by prominent citizens such
as judges, political leaders, artists, academics and sports persons.
Serious challenges such as inaccessible public transport, buildings (ramps, lifts, signage, toilet
facilities, sign language interpreters designated parking etc) still prevail in most parts of SA.
Equal access to employment is often hampered by lack of qualifications, provision of reasonable
accommodation, discriminatory employment practices such as wording of advertisements and
Data on disability is still inadequate and not readily available and reliable;
In the Public Service, the current human resource system used is archaic and is perceived as
discriminatory by disabled employees and disclosure is rejected leading to unreliable data.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Situation analysis
• There is a perception amongst people with disabilities that employers seem to
appoint employees with “easier" to handle disabilities as a token. In SA visual
impairment is the top ranking disability with many trained and qualified candidates
and yet, in employment this reality is not reflected. You find more mobility related
• In the Public Service, there are some departments at national level that have met the
required 2% employment equity target with another decent number at above 1% and
the rest below 1%;
• The representation of black women with disabilities is still a major issue, as they are
underrepresented in the employment;
• Of the total number employed, 41.08% are women despite women being the
majority of the population;
• Age is another worrying factor as 30.51% of persons with disabilities employed in the
public service are within the age group (20 – 39); and 39.17% within the age group
(40 – 49). Young people are in the majority of the population and should be more.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
National Legal Frameworks
• The Constitution of the Republic of SA Act, 108 of 1996: Guarantees fundamental
rights and equality of all persons including PWD.
• Department of Labour: legislation to redress past imbalances in labour practices SA:
• to link below Acts to Constitution, refer to Fanani's document for DG- Botswana
• Labour Relations Act 66, of 1995: Provides guidance on labour relations practices
and protects both the employer and employee.
• Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998: Determines employment equity quotas as they
apply to employment of PWD in the public and private sector. Code of Good Practice
on the Employment of PWD.
• Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997: The purpose of the Act is to
advance economic development and social justice by fulfilling the primary objects
such as the right to fair labour practices conferred by Section 23 of the Constitution
and obligations incurred by the Republic as a member of ILO.
• Skills Development Act 97 of 1998
• Skills Development Levy Act 9 of 1999
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Public Service Legal Frameworks
the DPSA has developed the following redress mechanisms to implement the objectives of the
various acts in the Public Service:
The Public Service Act of 1994 (Act 103 of 1994) provides for the organization and
administration of the Public Service and the regulation of the conditions of service. Transformatory
conditions of service such as maternity benefits, salaries and pension are some of those that
have been made possible through this Act.
White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service of 1995 identified a need to “create
a genuinely representative public service which reflects the major characteristics of South African
demography, without eroding efficiency and competence.” This was translated by the commitment
made by the Government of National Unity to “continually improve the lives of the people of South
Africa through a transformed public service which is representative, coherent, transparent,
efficient, effective, accountable and responsive to the needs of all” (WPTPS 1995: 6).
The White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery of 1997’s purpose was to provide a
policy framework and a practical implementation strategy for the transformation of public service
delivery with a guiding principle of the public service in South Africa to be that of service to the
people (Batho Pele).
The White Paper on Human Resource Management in the Public Service of 1997 introduced
a shift from personnel administration to human resource management and set the policy
framework for managerial autonomy in terms of managing human resources effectively and
strategically as part of the wider transformation agenda.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Public Service Legal F/W Cont….
The White Paper on Affirmative Action of 1998 became the Government’s commitment to the
transformation of the Public Service into an institution whose employment practices are
underpinned by equity. The White Paper called for a Public Service which was representative and
drew on the talents and skills of the diverse spectrum of the South African society and was not
only geared towards providing better services for all sectors of our society but would also enjoy
legitimacy in the eyes of South African people (1998:5). Section (ii) (2) – inculcate in the Public
Service a culture which values diversity and supports the affirmation of those who have previously
been treated unfairly and disadvantaged. The core principle for affirmative action was that
Affirmative action programmes must be integrated with other human resource management and
development practices especially the management of diversity (1988:12).
Human Rights Acts:
Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000: Gives effect to
Section 9 read with 23 (1) of Schedule 6 to the Constitution to prevent and prohibit unfair
discrimination, harassment; to promote equality, prohibit hate speech and matters connected
therewith. Chapter 2 prohibits contravention of the SABS that govern environmental accessibility.
UN Convention on the rights of PWD.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Role of government.
The role of government is to create an enabling environment for inclusivity to thrive. In SA, this is
embedded in all founding documents such as the Freedom Charter and the Constitution. The
Preamble and body of the Constitution: “We, the people of SA, Recognize the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to
build and develop our country; and Believe that SA belongs to all who live in it, united in our
diversity”. To give effect to this vision, legislation discussed earlier was enacted.
National symbols also integrate and reflect commitment to inclusivity: National Anthem, Coat of Arms
Chapter 10 section 195 also pronounces on diversity within the Public Service: "Public Administration
must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel
management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness, and need to redress the imbalances of the
past to achieve broad representation".
Cabinet also introduced an employment equity quota of 2% for people with disabilities in the public
service and the DPSA is required to monitor, report regularly to cabinet and the public administration
portfolio committee.
The Department for Monitoring and Evaluation has included indicators that monitor implementation of
mandatory programmes for disability in the assessment tool and non-compliance influences the
department’s final grading as a performing or non-performing department.
Leadership Positions:
Role Models in sports
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Tools for disability mainstreaming
The MPSA represents government as an employer and to this end, human resource policies , norms and standards
for service delivery access points, PS medical aid and capacity building academy are under this portfolio. The need
for disability mainstreaming in all these policies and frameworks is very key as if done, implementation automatically
integrates the interests and needs of people with disabilities.
• HODs 8-Principle Plan of Action for Promoting Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality within the P S
Workplace, 2007. The
• The Gender Equality Strategic Framework for the Public Service, 2008 (GESF)
• Public Service Women Management Week
• Guidelines on Child Care Facilities
• Handbook on Reasonable Accommodation for People with Disabilities in the Public Service in 2007 (Handbook).
• JobACCESS Strategic Framework for the Appointment, Recruitment and Retention of people with Disabilities (JA)
2009 and its Implementation Guidelines
• Framework on signage at service delivery points.
• Strategy to reduce vacancy rates in the Public Service and the period it takes to fill vacancies in 2012
• Policy on Reasonable Accommodation and Assistive Devices, (PRAAD) 2012
• Collective agreements in the Public Sector (maternity leave, equal benefits, etc)
• Disability Management Training- Public Administration Management Institute (PALAMA)
• Gender Mainstreaming in the Public Service
• Inclusion of disability indicators based on the JobACCESS F/W in the assessment tool (DPME)
• Government Employee Medical Scheme (GEMS)
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Challenges cont….
An enabling legislative and policy environment alone does not yield desired results.
The 2% employment equity target for persons with disabilities still not met by March 2012.
Implementation of the mainstreaming framework is very weak
General non-compliance with prescripts and in particular, those specific to disability.
Mainstreaming disability into policies and programme often does not happen because staff
employed as focal points are often not skilled and occupy low ranked positions.
Inadequate and Poor disaggregation of data. Currently, we do not have a valid set of data on
disability EAP because the agency doing that has not done it.
Employees with disabilities are often not consulted as interest groups when policies and
programmes are designed and this leads to policies that do not address their concerns.
Persistent beliefs and practices towards disability stigmatises, isolates and excludes persons with
The review of the human resource system is proving to be complex and this has resulted in a
resistance by employees with disabilities to declare their disability. This means there are people
who are working under unfavourable conditions as they cannot request to be reasonably
Senior managers do not regard transformation and the achievement of disability equity targets as
their responsibility .
Departments do not consider international obligations (UNCRPD) when developing Strategic
Plans, APPs and budgets.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity
Way forward/ Recommendations
It is important for the DWCPWD to finalise the National Disability Policy and Implementation
Guidelines (including the regulatory impact assessment) ( expected in 2014)
Once policy is released, the current National Disability Machinery must be reviewed and adjusted
best serve the needs of people with disabilities.
One of the reasons cited for not disclosing has to do with the HR System PERSAL; employees
believe questions are discriminatory and invasive of their privacy. The system is owned by
Treasury and the DPSA is addressing the challenge with them.
To achieve the equity targets, department are encouraged to use the targeted recruitment policy
(to address the high vacant rate) to employ disabled people as the policy allows for this.
Retention: accelerate the roll-out of the Policy on Reasonable Accommodation in Public Service
as soon as it has been approved.
Increase learnership and internship programme intakes in line with the government set quota of
4%. Enforce compliance.
Improve accessibility of government owned/leased buildings by enforcing the implementation of
the access strategy of government.
Special attention must be given to the situation of African women with disabilities.
Monitor the extent to which the Public Service Commission implements the Cabinet decision of
November 2012 to hold DGs accountable for the achievement of employment equity targets.
Leading the Public Service to Higher Productivity

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