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)
The Challenges and Benefits of Employing Persons with Disabilities: The Japanese Multinational Corporations’ Perspective (Japanese Companies in Malaysia)