DSS report finds employees with disability overlooked by food service industry

employees with disability

A Department of Social Services research report has found that more than half of Australian businesses in the food industry are overlooking employees with disability during the hiring process.

Though 78 per cent of the approximately 1200 respondents say they are open to hiring people with disability, only 45 per cent say they are currently employing someone with a disability.

Those that do note fresh ideas and perspectives, improved workplace cohesion and harmony, and a positive external image as the benefits of hiring people with disability.

“It’s [about] being a good example to other companies that are out there as well. It’s showing them that you’ll accept anyone as long as they’re right for the job. I feel like more companies need to be more accepting of that as well,” an unnamed manager of a medium-size business in Shepparton, Victoria, told the report.

In the study, just 42 per cent of employers in the food service, retail and accommodation industries thought their business was equipped to employ someone with a disability. The same amount viewed employing a person with disability as “a step into the unknown”.

“If you’ve actually [hired someone with a disability] – that is really putting your money where your mouth is – this is a big deal. It’s not just something you can play with academically. You’re going to have to accommodate someone and your team accordingly,” an unnamed middle manager of a medium-size business in Sydney told the report.

“You’re going to do something that is going to require you to rethink your workflows, how things are set out, how things are laid out – and work it out according to what [his/her] needs are…It’s a commitment. A commitment to the community.”

Large and medium-size employers were more open to employing people with disability, at 90 and 83 per cent respectively, compared to small and micro businesses, at 77 and 76 per cent respectively.

There was widespread agreement among larger employers that employees with disability have a good attitude to work, at 76 per cent for medium businesses and 69 per cent for large businesses that are open to hiring people with disability.

However, 43 per cent of medium and 32 per cent of large businesses open to employing people with disability were either uncertain, or of the view that their business is not equipped to employ someone with a disability.

Despite this, the report identified the retail, accommodation, and food services industries as among the most supportive and open to hiring people with disability, alongside professional and financial services, as well as social, health care and education services.

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