Data Related to Employment and Disability Cost Considerations - Myths and Facts

Attitudinal stereotypes about people with disabilities are still pervasive in the workplace, causing them to be hired less and terminated more often than workers without disabilities. One of the common myths is that hiring and/or retaining a person with a disability is costly to the employer. Several studies have shown this to be untrue.

1. Do all people with disabilities require job accommodation? Is job accommodation expensive?

Studies have shown that less than one-quarter of employees with disabilities need accommodations, and about 70 percent of such accommodations cost less than $500 per employee. Almost one-third cost the employer nothing. Nearly 20 percent cost $50 or less. In many instances, the refinements prove beneficial for able-bodied employees who happen to be shorter, taller, less agile, older, or depart from the norm in other ways.

Studies by the President's Committee's Job Accommodation Network (https://ncd.gov/progress_reports/July1996) have shown that 15% of accommodations cost nothing, 51% cost between $1 and $500, 12% cost between $501 and $1,000, and 22% cost more than $1,000.

A survey conducted in the USA found that 50% of necessary workplace modifications cost less than $50; 20% cost between $51-$500; 17% cost between $501-$1000; and only 13% cost in excess of $1000 (http://www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/623/800).

2. Are people with disabilities as reliable, punctual, and efficient as other employees?

Surveys have shown that people with a disability: on average, have a better attendance record (Lester & Caudill, 1987; Noel, 1990) have an average or better productivity rate than other workers (Lester & Caudill, 1987; Noel, 1990) have an average or better job retention rate (Lester & Caudill, 1987).

In 1990, DuPont conducted a survey of 811 employees with disabilities and found 90% rated average or better in job performance compared to 95% for employees without disabilities. A similar 1981 DuPont study which involved 2,745 employees with disabilities found that 92% of employees with disabilities rated average or better in job performance compared to 90% of employees without disabilities. The 1981 study results were comparable to DuPont's 1973 job performance study.

3. Are Employees with disabilities more likely to have accidents on the job than employees without disabilities? Do they require increased worker’s compensation rates?

A 1990 study by the E.I. DuPont Company that assessed the safety records of employees with disabilities found that 97% rated average or above average in safety. Similarly, a Marriott International Inc. study revealed that the 6% of self-identified workers with disabilities had safety records that equaled or exceeded their non-disabled peers. 

Another study published in 1993 by Peter Blanck with the Annenberg Washington Program found that 93% of the Oklahoma employers surveyed reported that employees with mental retardation do not create a safety risk in the workplace.

Research conducted by Noel in 1990 demonstrated that disability has no measurable effect on workers compensation insurance premiums.


FAQ material from The Human Resource Secretariat (HRS) Government of Newfoundland and Labrador