Inclusive employment: Smashing misconceptions and myths

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Smashing misconceptions and myths.


While there are myriad benefits for businesses that employ people with diverse abilities, uncertainty around providing adequate support, lack of awareness of the legal obligations and difficulties in ensuring appropriate access are often cited as potential barriers for employers.

Some of the common barriers include:

  • A perception that workplace adjustments are costly and difficult
  • Not knowing about the relevant laws or finding it hard to follow them
  • Uncertainty about how to provide access and flexibility
  • Not having enough money or people in the business to provide support
  • Perceived additional reporting requirements
  • Not having enough knowledge to support workers with a disability
  • Lack of information about how to recruitment and retention
  • Lack of knowledge about the business benefits.

However for employers that embrace more diverse workplaces, there can be “real cost savings through reduced staff turnover and lower recruitment and training costs” (1).

“People with disabilities make good, dependable employees. Many cases document comparable productivity, lower accident rates and higher job retention rates for people with a disability compared with a company’s general workforce.” (2)


Woman in a wheel chair talking to a group in a meeting room


Myth: People with disability take more days off.

Fact: 82% of employed working-age people with disability do not need time off work because of their disability (3).

Fact: On average, people with disabilities take fewer days off, take less sick leave and stay in jobs longer than other workers (4).


Myth: People with disability need more support to perform their duties.

Fact: 88% of employed working age people with disability do not require additional support from their employer to work (5). For those that do, there are a range of schemes, funding and support options available.


Myth: Expensive workplace adjustments will be necessary to accommodate people with a disability.

Most people with a disability will not require major adjustments to be made and many won’t require any adjustments. Financial support is often available to help with workplace adjustments.


Myth: People with disability will be less productive.

Fact: There is mounting evidence that people with a disability demonstrate high productivity levels in open mainstream employment (6).

Fact: Once in the right job, people with disability perform equally as well as other employees (7).


Myth: Employment costs will be higher for people with disabilities.

Fact: Employment costs for people with disability can be as low as 13% of the employment costs for other employees (8).


Myth: People with disability are most likely to be employed in low skilled jobs.

Fact: Of the 1 million Australians with disability who are employed, 34% are managers or professionals (9).


Myth: People with disability are more likely to have accidents or be unsafe at work.

Fact: Contrary to the common perception of increased OHS risk for people with disability, a 2007 study of Australian employers found that workers with disability have a lower number of OHS incidents compared to an average employee (10).



  1. Australian Government, Job Access, Benefits of employing people with disability.
  2. International Labour Office, Disability in the workplace: common practices, 2010.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, People with disability in Australia, 2020.
  4. Australian Government, Job Access, Benefits of employing people with disability.
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, People with disability in Australia, 2020.
  6. Powers, Tony: Recognising ability: The skills and productivity of persons with disabilities, International Labour Office, 2008.
  7. Australian Government Department of Social Security: An employer’s guide to employing someone with a disability.
  8. Australian Government, Job Access, Benefits of employing people with disability.
  9. Diversity Council Australia, We’ve seen no shift in employment of people with a disability in 20 years, 2007.
  10. Safe Work Australia, Are people with disability a risk at work?


The information provided here is general in nature only and does not constitute business financial or legal advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your business objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any of this information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your business objectives, financial/legal situation and needs.

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