As the country slowly begins to employ more disabled workers, required under the new Disability Law, more than 10,000 disabled people in the country are struggling to find employment, according to the National Center for Disabled People.
Enacted last year, the law requires public institutions with more than 100 employees to have staff comprising at least 2 percent disabled people, and similarly sized private companies to employee at least 1 percent disabled workers. The law gives companies three years to phase in the new policy, which applies to workers with a variety of disabilities.
Yi Veasna, executive director of the NCDP, predicted as many as 300 disabled people would be hired this year. He added that in January and February 2011, 30 disabled people gained employment, compared to 20 for the same period last year. The law “helps more disabled people to be employed at the work place,” he said. “But more disabled persons are struggling to find jobs, too.”
He did not have figures on how many companies and institutions are required to hire the disabled or how many disabled workers are employed nationwide. He said that the law had already changed the attitudes of some companies in hiring.
“We had to beg private companies in the past to employ people with disabilities,” he said, adding that now many companies ask NCDP for help to find disabled workers.
Sean Viboth, a 28-year-old blind man who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Khmer literature from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said yesterday that despite the law, employment discrimination continued. “I’ve tried to apply for jobs at many private and public institutions but no one has responded to me,” he said.
Sandra D’Amico, vice president of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations, said while disabled people often were more loyal and productive workers, employers often do not have proper facilities, such as access ramps, to accommodate them. Cambodia also needs facilities to help connect the disabled to employers, she said in an e-mail.
“As with all laws, the impact and success will depend entirely on the promotion and implementation and enforcement of the law,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)