Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Disability in the Labour Market: An Exploration of Concepts of the Ideal Worker and Organisational Fit that Disadvantage Employees with Impairments

an article by Deborah Foster and Victoria Wass (Cardiff University, UK) published in Sociology Volume 47 Number 4 (August 2013)


The adverse employment effects that attach to disability are empirically well established.

They are large and persistent.

This is a conceptual article that investigates the source of this deep and enduring employment disadvantage.

Debate begins by examining the origins of ideas that have shaped approaches to work study and have influenced concepts of what constitutes an ideal worker. Drawing on feminist critiques of organisational analysis that have highlighted the gendered character of processes, practices and values, it explores the relatively neglected position of disabled employees.

With reference to transcripts from four Employment Appeal Tribunals brought under the Disability Discrimination Act, it illustrates how standard jobs, designed around ideal (non-disabled) employees, create a mismatch between a formal job description and someone with an impairment.

We suggest this mismatch is central to the organisation’s resistance to implementing adjustments and also to any radical approaches to include impaired employees in the workplace.

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