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Employment Among Peoples With Disabilities Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 4016 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Companies decisions to hire and retain employee can be influence of variety of factors. The study examines factors that influence companies' decision to hire a person with disabilities in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. While not denying the fact that there are numerous factors contributing to the companies' decisions to hire disabled people. According to the Department of Social Welfare Malaysia, persons with disability is any person who is unable to obtain for himself/herself, fully or partially, the normal requirements of an individual and / or is unable to participate fully in the community due to shortcomings either physically or mentally and whether it occurred since birth or later in life. There are six categories of disabilities that are identify and registered in the department that is first hearing disability including deaf and mute, second is vision disability including blind that is eyesight less than 3/60 for the good eye even with vision support equipment (eye glasses) and low vision/partially sighted that is eyesight less 6/18 but equal or better than 3/60 for the good eye even with vision support equipment (eye glasses), third is physical disability such as Polio, Amputee, Muscular Dystrophy, Myopathy, Neuropathy, Osteogenesis Imperfecta and others, fourth is Cerebral Palsy such as Hemiplegia that is Cerebral palsy that affect half of the body, Diplegia that is Cerebral palsy that affect both legs and Quadriplegia that is Cerebral palsy that affect all limbs, fifth is learning disability that is Global Development Delay (for children age < 3), Down Syndrome Autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder and specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and others, sixth is other disabilities' category that not stated above.

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People with disabilities are often being socially excluded in our Malaysian Society (Malaysian Care Organisation). Negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities has been identified as a barrier them to particiapte fully in society (Hasnah Toran et al., 2009). Without a concerted effort and awareness from companies and public as well, there is no improvement for this people to participate fully in society.

Malaysia passed the Person with Disability Act (PWDA) in 2008 as part of its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN convention). According to this Act, those persons with disabilities shall have equal access to public facilities, amenities, services and buildings, public transport, education, employment, information, communication and technology, cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (www.thenutgraph.com). This Act as a basis for equalization of opportunities for person with disabilities, to eliminate discrimination and harrasment against them and to promote their full participation as equal citizens of this country (Zulfikri Osman, 2003).


There are 15,409 PWDs registered with the State Welfare Services Department in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah as at July 2010, including those with physical or mental disabilities, hearing and vision impairment, cerebral palsy as well as intellectually challenged according to Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun in the Daily Express( 10 October 2010). According to her, there are many other PWDs out there have not registered to the department and urges to do so and the society must adapt to their needs and accord them the same right. There are some approaches and campaign done by government to improve the standard of living disabled persons.

In general, the reaction of the private sector towards employment of disabled people may be due to misperception about people with disabilities. Hooi (2000a, p. 4) quotes Bathmavathi Krishnan, a senior disabled librarian in Kuala Lumpur: 'Most employers are reluctant to employ the disabled because of concerns regarding safety regulations, the need to modify premises such as installing ramps, disabled-friendly toilets and extra medical costs'. Mariah Abdul Rahman (Hooi 2000a, p. 4) a web-lab manager in MIMOS Bhd, cites prejudice and the fear of uncertainty among employers as the main reasons why people with disabilities find it difficult to seek employment.

In this era of globalization and digitization where competitive pressures of the new economy spill over into the lives of the rich, poor and disabled people, the need for a decent job is even more fundamental to a life of dignified existence: "The work that we do has a crucial impact on our social and material well-being, in terms of income, class, status, influence, social relationships and personal identity" (Barnes, Mercer & Shakespeare 1999, p.1 10).

The purpose of this study is to investigate companies' attitudes towards employment of persons with disabilities in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah .


1) The objective of this study is to investigate factor that influence companies' attitudes toward the employment of persons with disabilities.

2) To recommend suitable employee for the private company.


The scope of the study covers a few selected Private companies in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Sembulan, Tanjung Aru, Lintas, Inanam and Likas).


This study is significant because it seek to measure the companies' opinions and view in hiring persons with disabilities. This study will benefit the government, disabled people, employers and local universities as there were few empirical studies in this area. Hence the findings from this study can be used by the government and employers to develop better effort in developing disabled people to live in better living conditions and in the workplace.


The terms used in the study are defined for ease of understanding

1.6.1 Disability person

Those who have long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society (Social Welfare Department of Malaysia).

Disability is defined according to the American Disability Act: "1) A person who has a physical of mental impairment, which substantially limits a major life activity, 2) Has record of that impairment that is used by the employer to discriminate against the individual, and 3) Is regarded by others as having such an impairment, whether impaired or not (this category includes AIDS/HIV)" (Fersh & Thomas, 1993; Spechler, 1996; President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, 1993).

1.6.2 Private Company

Business firm in the private (non-public) sector of an economy, controlled and operated by private individuals (and not by civil servants or government-employees) (retrieved from businessdictionary on 18 October 2010).

1.6.3 Attitude`

An attitude is a learned predisposition to behave in a consistent favorable or unfavorable way with respect to a given object (Schiffman & Kanuk, 1994).

Attitude is a combination of beliefs and feelings that influence behavior (Brostrand, 2006). author (Brostrand, 2006). While Triandis, Adampoulus, and Brinberg (1984) also defines attitude as an idea or belief is driven by feelings and produce a certain behavior in a social situation.



Hiring People with Disabilities

A 1994 study by Ford attempted to determine where employers received information about the ADA and their training in hiring people with disabilities. Participants were also asked what services they needed to employ people with severe disabilities and in what areas they were lacking information. Responses included lack of information about supported employment, disability, building modifications, employer benefits, laws, funding, rehabilitation technology devices and services, and service providers. When participants were asked whether they were able to provide the rehabilitation technology necessary to employ an individual with a disability, 74% said they were not. When asked to state why, 23% said lack of funds, 22% indicated lack of expertise, 19% did not know where to go for training, and 14% stated it was due to low priority, lack of time, lack of feedback, or personal constraints. Twenty-six percent of employers surveyed said they had never made a referral to a vocational rehabilitation agency for an employee with a disability. When asked why, 36% said they did not even know it was possible, 24% did not know where to refer to, 26% said it was not their job, and the remaining 14% stated it was not in their best interests or in the best interests of the employee with the disability (Ford, 13 1994). The results of this study indicate that employers need more information and assistance in employing people with disabilities.

Employers Attitudes

While some studies have explored the need employers have for information, other studies have investigated employers' attitudes towards hiring people with disabilities. One study on employers' attitudes made use of a scale developed by Kregel and Tomiyasu (1994) This scale measured the attitudes of 170 employers toward workers with disabilities and towards the ADA. The results of this study found that while 96% of the 170 employers interviewed knew of the ADA, only 36% said they would support mandated quotas for hiring people with disabilities. The employers were asked about their satisfaction and previous experience with people with disabilities in the workplace; 73% had previous experience. Of that 73%, 78% were satisfied with the performance of the worker with a disability, 11% were somewhat satisfied.

Overall, this study found employers to have a positive attitude towards people with disabilities. The employers did acknowledge that in order for the transition into the workforce to be successful they needed to provide a good effort. On the other hand, employers did not feel they had to create jobs or employ persons with disabilities themselves. They did feel assistance would be necessary to hire a person with a disability, but few felt it would be too expensive. In addition, although these employers saw people with disabilities favorably, they believed the hiring of a person with a disability would depend on the extent or severity of the disability. The employers also expressed some personal concerns, which included fears of not being able to communicate with the employee and fear of the employee with a disability making special demands (Kregel & Tomiyasu, 1994).

Building Relationships

Developing relationships between vocational rehabilitation agencies and employers will increase communication and benefit both. Employers will receive assistance in the logistics of hiring an individual with a disability and VR will more successfully place clients into open positions within those companies. Accommodation is one area where employers struggle to know what is necessary and how to implement it. When accommodating workers with disabilities it is important for companies to realize that they do not have to do it on their own. It is suggested that companies take a proactive approach. Some suggested guidelines are:

1) Designate a company representative to oversee ADA compliance.

2) Create and maintain cooperative relationships with other companies and community resources.

3) Ensure that all company policies are compatible with ADA prescriptions... 4) Consult rehabilitation professionals to assist in the formulation and review of accommodation options, and preparation of work and non-work environments. (Mullins, Rumrill, & Roessler, 1994, p. 16)

Attitudes of Society and Employers

Due to attitudes or society and, more specifically, employers, job placement and job development for individuals with a mental disability can be challenging in itself; add the concept of job development, and you have an even more complicated situation. In job placement, the job placement specialist works with individuals with mental illness in various types of vocational environments, finds out that they may be more like a 'salesperson' attempting to sell a 'product' to community employers. The 'product' that the job placement specialist is promoting to community employers is his or her clients' abilities and skills. The motivation for this action is that community employers have what rehabilitation professionals and their consumers want-a job in an integrated community setting. However, acquiring this vocational goal is not as easy as it sounds-'get the job' (University of Wisconsin-Stout, 1983). The placement to specialist needs to be persuasive, because if he or she is not able to promote their clients to employers in the community, the unemployment rate may stay the same or even worsen (Fabian & Waterworth, 1993). In order for this event to take place, the job placement specialist must create a working relationship with the employer in order to create a positive working environment for his or her client.

Malaysian empployers' attitude

A study by Zulfikri Osman (2003) on Malaysian employers' attitudes toward hiring persons with disabilities found that Malaysian employers are found to be discriminative in hiring disabled workers. Jobs offered to disabled workers are normally for lower position. The Ministry of National Unity and Social Development thhrough its working group on legislation had drafted a proposed Act to be called Person with Disabilities Act. However, these federal initiatives, as important as they are, have not changed the way many employers feel about hiring the disabled people. The study also found that, those surveyed perceived their organizations had been unfair in offering jobs while at the same time do not provide special training programs tailored for disabled workers. On the positive side though, organizations gave the same benefits and salary schemes, equal opportunity for advancement and are socially responsible in term of employment oppotunity given to disabled workers. However, employers do not really care about disabled people involvement in building. Moreover, organizations seemed to prefer normal prospective employees, during selection and recruitment, to disabled people. The cross tabulations revealed that the private sector's employment of disabled workers declined sharply. The three hypotheses were then tested and found that training and development policy and the legal and ethical environment were proven to have significant relationships with employers' attitude individually. However, an organization unique workplace environment was not. Although the strengths of each relationship were not established the significance of two out of three, are thought to be good for future research and prediction on employers' attitude. Finally, the findings raised the need for a review of existing legal provisions to ensure equal employment opportunity for all.

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A study by Noraini Mohd Salleh, Khalid Abdullah and Nor Aishah Buang (2001) on Job Opportunities for Special Needs Poplulation in Malaysia found that the special needs population's short comings or their handicapping factors were not the stumbling blocks of their career development and education has played a major role towards their success. Seven hundred fourthy six special needs individuals (blind, low vision, deaf, mentally retarded, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, epileptic, stutter, physically disabled, spastic, and with speech problems) with jobs were identified and some of the jobs undertaken by the special needs population are classified as: professional, semi-professional; skilled non-professional and unskilled non-professional. Hundred fourty government agencies and private companies were located. These employers or potential employers' suggestions for their clients or potential clients' training to be more specific and suitable for the job market; in line with the country's needs; business bias; inclination towards industrialization: electronic, information technology; food and tailoring.

A study by Prabha Ramakrishnan (2007) on Critical Factors Influencing Employment of Disabled Persons in Malaysia. There are four factors covered by the study that are namely, the organisational commitment to employment of disabled people, attitude attitude towards disabled workers, the organisational policies on disability, and the employment opportunities for the disabled people. The first three factors constitute the independent variables, and the last one, the dependent variable. The first variable organisational commitment to employment of disabled people. The second variable is attitude towards disabled workers. The third variable organisational policies on disability. Overall, these three independent variables significantly explain the variance in the dependent variable, i.e. employment opportunities for the disabled persons. The findings of this study show that the organisational commitment to the employment of disabled people is fairly favourable. This is indicated by a higher organizational commitment by companies that employ disabled workers; it is also shown by a higher emphasis for training employees towards disability issues. However, there is no significant difference in the recruitment of disabled workers between organisations that employ no disabled persons and those that employ disabled persons. The overall attitude towards employment of disabled people is not actually favourable, although the co-workers perception of disabled staff is fairly favourable. While the organisational perception on the need for supervision of disabled employees is somewhat favourable, the organisations that currently employ disabled persons are of the opinion that greater supervision is needed. The general perception on the current organisational policy for employment of disabled persons is not really favourable, although organisations that employ disabled people perceive themselves to have a more favourable policy. Findings on the barriers to employment of disabled people indicate that Malaysian organisations perceive the lack of related experience in managing disability issues as the most significant barrier. Other barriers, in descending order, are the lack of education on disability topics, lack of required skill and training, cost of supervision of disabled workers, attitude towards and stereotyping of disabled workers, lack of knowledge about accommodation issues, cost of training for disabled employees, and the cost of accommodation for the disabled workers. Although the Malaysian government has provided incentives to the private sector and set quota for the public sector to improve the employment rate of disabled persons, overall research findings show that disability employment and opportunities for such employment is low in Malaysia.

Ganapathy (Jayasooria 2000) in 1992 identified five reasons for low hiring of disabled persons in Malaysia; first reason is the absence of a nation-wide register of job seekers among disabled persons because the Government and voluntary agencies were not well coordinated, the second reason is the prejudice existing against disabled people, the third is the poor access to public facilities, the fourth reason is the restricted location of employment - more concentrated than distributed, and, the fifth reason is reluctance of employers to modify or adapt machinery and facilities for disabled workers.


Independent variables Dependent variable

Co-workers' perception

Companies' attitudes

Work performance

Management's perception on the need for supervision

Figure 1


Co-workers' perception

Co-workers' perception towards disabled workers either favorably or non-favorably that affect on companies' attitudes in hiring them.

Work performance

Work performance of disabled workers such as their skills and abilities in performing their task that affect on Companies' attitudes.

Management's perception on the need for supervision

Management's perception on the need for supervision of disabled workers after hiring them that either favorably or non-favorably.


Companies' attitude is referring to their opinions and views and what factors that influence them in hiring persons with disabilities.



3.1 Research Design

For the purpose of this study, the research design will be sample survey. The research demands for information from people in five places in Kota Kinabalu which are Sembulan, Likas and Tanjung Aru. It means the administration of questionnaires will be distributed to sample of selected company. Types of approaches being used is by a questionnaire survey.

3.2 Unit of Analysis

As this study will address the companies' attitudes towards employment persons with disabilities, unit analysis will be the employer and employee of the selected private companies.

3.3 Sample size

The sample size for the purpose of this study is 50 respondents which taken randomly in that five places of selected private companies.

3.4 Sampling Technique

Five places in selected area will be selected for closer analysis of companies' attitudes towards employment of persons with disabilities. The type of sampling is random sampling technique to select the sample. The sampling frame for this study was produced by a compilation of names of corporations and smaller businesses from telephone directories and from the Labour Department List. A list of organisations was tabulated and a number was assigned to each organisation. The organisations were selected using the statistical random numbers table.

3.5 Research Measurement/instrument

The variables and their measurement are outlined in the following sections.

Co-workers' perception

Co-workers' perception towards disabled workers either favorably or non-favorably that affect on companies' attitudes in hiring them. It is interval scale; a set of statement can be developed to assess respondent's perceptions. The respondent's can agree or disagree using five-point Likert scale: strongly disagree= 1, disagree=2, neutral= 3, agree=4, strongly agree=5.

Work performance

Work performance of disabled workers such as their skills and abilities in performing their task that affect on Companies' attitudes. The respondent's can agree or disagree using five-point Likert scale: strongly disagree= 1, disagree=2, neutral= 3, agree=4, strongly agree=5.

Management's perception on the need for supervision

Management's perception on the need for supervision of disabled workers after hiring them that either favorably or non-favorably that affect on companies' attitudes. strongly disagree= 1, disagree=2, neutral= 3, agree=4, strongly agree=5.

3.6 Data collection

The data for this study will be collected thorough survey questionnaire. This method was chosen because it easier to deliver and collected.

3.7 Data Analysis

For this study, data analysis was done by quantitative methods where statistical analysis was conducted in descriptive of statistic. Descriptive statistics methods were used to compute frequencies, measures of central tendency such as the mean, median and the mode and dispersion such as the range, the variance and the standard deviation. The data collected from the survey questionnaire were analysed using Statistical software tool (SPSS 17.0).


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