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Employment Declaration: Opening the labour market to persons with disabilities

In December 2014, the EASPD Board endorsed the new EASPD Employment Declaration which results from several months of consultations with EASPD’s members and stakeholders, in particular the members of EASPD’s Standing Committee on Employment. The final document analyses the situation in Europe regarding the participation of persons with disabilities in the open labour market and highlights the need to shift the focus away from a disability perspective on to a skills and competences perspective.


According to EASPD findings, only 20% of persons with disabilities in Europe are employed, while this labour force participation rate rises to around 65% when considering the population as a whole[1]. Furthermore, among those who are working, many are underemployed as they are not paid a decent wage, work below their capabilities and/or with temporary contracts and have poor career prospective.


This situation hampers the personal socio-economic development of persons with disabilities in many different ways whilst also goes against the achievement of an inclusive society. Poor working conditions entail inadequate standards of living and deter the possibility of persons with disabilities to live independently in their communities. On top of that, the economic crisis which has hit Europe since 2008 has led to the implementation of austerity measures which have also had a negative impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.


Considering these factors and facts, EASPD has officially adopted an Employment Declaration presenting the views of the European service providers for persons with disabilities on which measures and actions are need to correctly implement article 27 of the UN CRPD.

Service providers for persons with disabilities in Europe:

  • Wish to highlight the urgent and persistent problem of unemployment and underemployment among persons with disabilities in Europe. They therefore consider improving employment opportunities for persons with disabilities as one of society’s key challenges which policy-makers have to tackle in the upcoming years. The Europe 2020 goal of 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed by 2020 won’t be possible if we don’t include persons with disabilities.
  • Call for a stronger partnership with all Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), with civil society stakeholders, with policy makers, trade unions and with the business world in order to establish an effective cooperation and ensure that real employment opportunities for persons with disabilities are made available.
  • Commit to strive and support decision makers, at all levels of government, through a variety of means and tools, to developed support measures and legal frameworks to facilitate and speed up the realisation of an accessible and inclusive labour market. 

This Declaration is the result of a one-year process started with a dedicated conference on employment held in Istanbul in 2013 and developed through subsequent consultations culminating with an ad-hoc Board Seminar. The main objective is to support EASPD’s member organisations into securing the complex process of implementing the UN CRPD.


Article 27 of the UN CRPD

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the main international framework for the rights of persons with disabilities. The right to work and employment has been formally recognised by the UN CRPD article 27. The UN Convention, which was concluded by the EU in 2010, formalized an innovative approach, as it formally stresses the need for an inclusive labour market and recognises the right to reasonable accommodation, which allows full participation of persons with disabilities in the working life through any “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden” (UN CRPD, Article 2).


Related documents and links
Note to editors

The EASPD Standing Committee (SC) on Employment is one of the eight working groups made-up of EASPD members and experts. Around one third of the EASPD membership is providing job-related services or employment to people with disabilities thus explaining why these topics are high on the agenda of service providers in Europe.

[1] These figures are different to those published by Eurostat in 2014. EASPD challenges the EC’s figures as those figures might not include all people working in sheltered workshops and people declared as unable to work by national legislation: