Globally, 80% to 90% of persons with disabilities of working age are unemployed in developing countries. Data of employment and unemployment of persons with disabilities in Malaysia is not publicly available, not disaggregated by gender, age and disability, and not updated regularly.
In Malaysia, data from 2018 reported that approximately 4500 persons with disabilities were working in both public and private sectors. This is approximately 1.4% of the adults with disabilities of working age (320,870) known to the Social Welfare Department’s national disability register in 2018.
Meanwhile, it was reported in 2021 that only 0.35% of employees in the civil service were persons with disabilities, much lower than the policy which targeted 1% quota in the public sector.
Many persons with disabilities work in sheltered workshops, segregated work centres that primarily employ persons with disabilities. Some sheltered workshops also provide independent living skills training and recreational activities to their clients with disabilities. Persons with disabilities working in sheltered workshops usually receive nominal wages that are below the minimum wage.
Although sheltered workshops provide some form of employment to persons with disabilities, they are “highly discouraged by the CRPD Committee because they exclude people with disabilities from the mainstream labour market” (Meanie-Davis & Coe, 2020). Sheltered workshops are also not sustainable in addressing systemic barriers and discrimination of persons with disabilities in open employment.
Persons with disabilities face multiple barriers to employment, and not just during the recruitment and hiring process. Even when persons with disabilities are in employment, they experience difficulties in obtaining work-related training and education. They also have difficulties completing their work duties due to the lack of supportive systems and policies to accommodate their needs.
Some of the common barriers to employment include but are not limited to:
*Note: Resources linked are in English and pdf or webpage format, unless stated otherwise.
Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Section 29: Access to Employment)
Dasar Satu Peratus Peluang Pekerjaan Dalam Perkhidmatan Awam Kepada Orang Kurang Upaya (PP 16/2010) (1 Percent Employment in Civil Service for Persons with Disabilities Policy)
Return to Work Programme (RTW) by PERKESO (SOCSO)
Challenges Faced by Malaysians with Disabilities in the World of Employment
Employment Challenges Among Persons with Disabilities in Malaysia
A Study On Challenges Faced By Disabled People At Workplace In Malaysia
Employment Of People With Disabilities In Malaysia: Drivers And Inhibitors
Employment Experiences among Young Malaysian Adults with Learning Disabilities
Youth Workers with Disabilities: The Views of Employers in Malaysia
Exploration of HR Managers Perspectives in Hiring and Retaining Practices of People with Physical Disabilities
The Challenges and Benefits of Employing Persons with Disabilities: The Japanese Multinational Corporations’ Perspective (Japanese Companies in Malaysia)
Employability of Persons with Disabilities: Job Coaches' Perspectives
Workplace discrimination against Malaysians with disabilities: Living with it or fighting against it?
Addressing Barriers to Employment for People with Disabilities: Evidence and Lessons Learned
Disability in the new workplace: What companies need to know and do
The Impact of Ableism on Disability Discrimination in Employment (U.S.)
Persons with a Disability: Barriers to Employment and Other Labor-Related Issue (U.S.)
The Participation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace Across the Employment Cycle: Employer Concerns and Research Evidence
Survey of Employer Perspectives on the Employment of People with Disabilities (U.S.)
The Great Debate: The Shift from Sheltered Workshops to Competitive Integrated Employment
Disability in the New Workplace: What Companies Need to Know and Do
Barriers to Employment for People with Disabilities
The Truth of Disability Employment that No One Talks About
Disability in the Workplace: Barriers to Employment and Retention
Sheltered Workshops For People With Disabilities: A Reliable Opportunity Or An Outdated System?
Creating an accessible and inclusive workplace by IncludeAbility, Australian Human Rights Commission
Workplace Adjustments for Executive Dysfunction by Emma Sharman
Employment Transition Programme Trainer's Manual by Enabling Academy, Yayasan Gamuda. Available in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese