Telecommuting boosts employability of disabled people

Nov 28, 2022
Telecommuting boosts employability of disabled people

Obviously, for Elon Musk (yes, him again, sorry), Twitter is just a huge headache for the moment. Communication disaster, his management of the social network's workforce is now continuing in the judicial field. 

Already targeted by a class action in the federal court of San Francisco for having, according to the complaint, fired 3,700 employees without taking into account the notice period, is the CEO of Tesla targeted here by a second class action.

This one was filed by Dmitry Borodaenko, a California-based engineering manager who suffers from a disability. The reason: by ending the pro-telework policy previously in place at Twitter, Musk violated, according to Borodaenko, the U.S. federal law (ADA) that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities in their work assignments.

Telecommuting corrects inequities

Is telecommuting a natural support for employees with disabilities? Today, employees with disabilities are still victims of glaring inequalities in the workplace. It starts with recruitment. In France, for example, the unemployment rate for disabled people is 14%, almost double the French average.

Moreover, once employed, the difficulties are far from over and can accumulate. Getting to the workplace can be an obstacle course: access to public transportation is often very limited, as is access to the office, the photocopier and the coffee machine. As for participating in certain company events, this can be, in many respects, mission impossible. 

To correct these inequalities, there are many areas to consider, from the design of buildings to the way people with disabilities are viewed. But in this set, telework can play a central role.

As Anthony Hussenot, professor of organizational sciences (Université Côte d'Azur) and Mai-Anh Ngo, research engineer in law at the CNRS-GREDEG (Université Côte d'Azur), specialist in disability law [1], note, "telework allows people with disabilities to work more as equals. No one needs to adapt especially to the other. By videoconferencing with colleagues or collaborating via online collaborative tools, all workers have to make the same effort to adapt. This equality is reinforced by the disappearance of problems related to travel to attend meetings.

The proof is in the pudding

That's it in theory. But what is it really like? For Laurence Marin, Executive Director of the “Regroupement des organismes spécialisés pour l'emploi des personnes handicapées” (Canada), there is no doubt: "Telecommuting has become the norm and no longer the exception. This has benefited people with disabilities, who now have a better chance of entering the job market.

The proof is in the pudding. The United States is the world leader in telecommuting. According to a recent study conducted by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), people with disabilities aged 25 to 54 were 3.5 points of percentage more likely to be hired in the second quarter of 2022 than they were before the pandemic, while this figure is down for the population as a whole (-1.1 point of percentage). 

The paper attributes this increase largely to the democratization of telecommuting. According to Adam Ozimek, chief economist at EIG, "The share of prime working-aged disabled individuals with a job is now the highest since at least the Great Recession [2], marking important progress". 

The importance of telework for the inclusion of people with disabilities cannot be understated, as it plays an essential role in their integration by helping to combat the inequalities that affect them in the workplace.  

But the positive effects of telecommuting do not stop there. Indeed, it allows to "remove the barriers that underrepresented groups previously faced in the labor market", says Deloitte. 

[1] Libération (04/30/2020)
[2] from 2007 to 2009


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