Smart Employers Take Advantage of Hiring the Disabled

We often fear or shy away from that which seems unfamiliar. For some employers, that includes disabled or differently abled job candidates and employees. Some employers fall victim to myths that disabled employees are less reliable, for instance. On the contrary, in my experience I have found that these candidates tend to be more reliable. Further, the challenges they face in everyday life often build an unshakeable work ethic and dogged determination.

There are numerous advantage to hiring the disabled. It allows a company to access a wider and more diverse workforce pool, and in some cases, a more talented one. For example, some employers find that employees on the autism spectrum are often better at certain tasks than “neuro-typical” employees. These would include product inspection, finding patterns and flaws in patterns, and work that requires extended focus and concentration.

Additionally, hiring the disabled can provide some defense to claims of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in part by making a company more aware of the barriers and obstacles these employees face. Also, it can help in any potential disability-related discrimination claim, to show that the company has a group of differently abled employees succeeding in its workforce. Lastly, there are considerable public relations, community and customer relations advantages as well.

Employers are eligible for numerous tax credits when they hired disabled employees, some of which will help make their place of business more accessible to all, employees and customers alike.

The federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides employers incentives to hire qualified individuals. The maximum tax credit ranges from $1,200 to $9,600, depending on the employee hired and the length of employment. The credit is available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. This includes people with disabilities and veterans.

The federal Disabled Access Credit provides a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full-time employees in the previous year. Companies can take advantage of the credit each and every year they incur access expenditures.

The Architectural/Transportation Tax Credit (IRS Code Section 190, Barrier Removal) allows business of all sizes to take an annual deduction of up to $15,000 for expenses such as creating accessible parking; installing ramps and curb cuts; making telephones, water fountains and restrooms accessible; and widening walkways. It may also be used for vehicle adaptation.

Consult with your accountant and legal counsel on the best way to optimize your workforce by hiring the disabled or differently abled.