Tracking Equalities at Work research released by the Human Rights Commission yesterday shows that New Zealand’s disabled population has nearly double the level of unemployment than non-disabled people. Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson says that it is a human right to work and clearly New Zealand needs to do better in this area.
Disabled people have higher rates of unemployment and lower labour force participation compared to their non-disabled peers at every age and either sex. They also have lower incomes than non-disabled people. Disabled Māori unemployment rate is 17 percent but for disabled European New Zealanders it is 7 percent.
“I am concerned to see the compounding disadvantage of ethnicity and disability. I would like to see Government prioritise achieving human rights for disabled Māori so that they have a fair go like everybody else,” Paul Gibson said.
This research also highlighted the lack of data being collected about disabled people and employment. The Commissioner says that this missing information means lack of measurements, lack of goals for employment, and clearly no decent employment strategy for assisting people with disabilities into work.
“Data collection on employment status of disabled people is thin on the ground. A true picture of how disabled people are faring in the workforce and the disabled pay-gap is actually missing,” he said, “I hope the recently announced government working group on disability data collection addresses this as a matter of urgency."
Fewer people are receiving minimum wage exemption permits than they were three years ago. However approximately half of all minimum wage exemptions permit wages below $3.00 an hour and the majority (75%) of exemptions pay below $5.00 an hour.
“This really is not fairness in the workplace and I’d like to see less discriminatory schemes than this. Working for $3 an hour seems too low to me no matter who you are,” Paul Gibson said.