FAQ: How to Hire People with Disabilities
FAQ: How to Hire People with Disabilities

FAQ: How to Hire People with Disabilities

Only 19.1% of disabled Americans are employed compared with 65.9% of the general population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Qualified job seekers with disabilities may be held back by companies’ fear of expensive accommodations or compliance regulations.

If you’re interested in hiring people with disabilities, look no further. We’ve answered FAQs to help you remain compliant.

Q: How does the federal government define "disability"?

A: The concept of “disability” is defined by context. For employers, a person with a disability is someone who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities,"
  2. has a record of such an impairment, or
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment.

While this does not apply to short-term impairments of 6 months or less, it can include impairments for which symptoms do not necessarily appear consistently, such as epilepsy or various mental health conditions.

Q: What are the advantages of hiring people with disabilities?

A: The advantages of hiring disabled workers are the same as those for hiring anyone—adding great people to your team! A willingness to hire disabled people also means you have the potential to choose from a wider talent pool, add new perspectives to your organization and benefit from various tax credits.

Q3: What tax credits are available when hiring disabled employees?

A: There are several possible tax incentives available for companies who hire people with disabilities.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) provides one-time tax incentives for hiring individuals from groups who face significant barriers to employment, including veterans, SSI recipients and those who have completed a Vocational Rehabilitation program. The maximum available credit can be as much as $9,600.

The Disabled Access Credit provides credits to small businesses (earning $1 million or less or having no more than 30 full time employees) so that they can provide access to workers with disabilities.

The Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal Tax Deduction allows deductions of up to $15,000 per year for businesses of any size who remove barriers—architectural or transportation—which limit the mobility of the disabled or elderly.

Q: How can my company attract job seekers with disabilities?

A: An easy step is to ensure that your hiring process isn’t biased against those with disabilities. Job seekers whose applications include references to disabilities—even those that will have no impact on their capacity to fulfill the job for which they are applying—are 26% less likely to be invited for an interview, according to a Rutgers University study.

Furthermore, it’s important to make your hiring process accessible—this could apply to where you advertise vacancies, the ease-of-use of your website and any locations where you hold interviews. Here’s a great question to answer right now: Is your website accessible for the visually impaired? If not, fines and penalties may be right around the corner.

Additionally, all staff involved in recruiting and hiring should be educated on the importance of accessibility and what is required to stay compliant (see below).

disabled employee in wheelchair

Q: What is the ADA?

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the most important piece of federal legislation prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Title 1 of the ADA prohibits discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, compensation, promotions, training and benefits.

Q: Does the ADA apply to all companies?

A: No, the ADA (and ADAAA) does not apply to private companies with less than 15 employees.

Q: How is the ADA enforced?

A: Enforcement of workplace anti-discrimination legislation is the responsibility of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If a company is accused of discriminating against a disabled employee, they may face EEOC penalties. The EEOC also provides assistance for employers seeking to comply with anti-discrimination legislation.

Q: What does the ADA require of companies?

A: Companies may not discriminate against job applicants or employees with disabilities. Job applicants cannot be refused because of a disability, while employees may not be segregated, harassed or fired on the basis of disability.

Furthermore, companies are required to provide reasonable accommodation to the needs of disabled applicants and employees. This can mean making offices accessible, providing specialist equipment or making exceptions to workplace rules. Even if requests for such assistance seem impractical or too expensive, companies must at least consider the request—and may be able to apply to benefit from special funding in order to help disabled applicants and employees (see below).

Q: What are companies not required to do?

A: Companies are not required to fulfil requests that would fundamentally alter the nature of the job, lower production or performance standards or incur significant difficulty or expense. Whether providing assistance is too difficult/expensive is decided on a case-by-case basis, considering company size and resources. If assistance is deemed to be an undue burden, employers must attempt to find an alternative solution as well as giving the relevant employee the option of providing the missing funds themselves.

Q: Does the ADA force companies to hire disabled workers?

A: No, the ADA does not give preference to candidates with disabilities. The only obligation on companies is that they consider applicants on their merits, and don’t discriminate based on disability.

Q: What can’t I ask while interviewing a person with disabilities?

A: During an interview process—until a job offer is made—you cannot ask an applicant questions about whether they have a disability, even if such a disability is obvious. You may ask about whether an applicant may need extra assistance with or changes made to the application process, work environment or how the job is done (if you have a reasonable belief that a reasonable accommodation may be required).

An employer is however permitted to ask applicants to voluntarily report whether they have a disability, but only for the purposes of an affirmative action program.

Q: What can I ask after the hiring process?

A: Once a conditional offer is submitted, it is permitted to ask disability-related questions and conduct medical examinations but only if these are asked of all new employees of the same category.

Once a candidate is employed, disability-related questions and medical examinations are allowed if job-related and necessary from a business perspective.

Paycor Recruiting Can Help

Finding the right team is never easy, especially in a tight labor market. But Paycor's Recruiting Software helps make your applicant tracking process smoother, more efficient and compliant. Interested in learning more? Take a product tour today.

Take Product Tour

More to Discover

Paycor’s streamlined HR and Payroll solutions coupled with a flexible Recruiting platform impressed Taste Buds Management

Paycor’s streamlined HR and Payroll solutions coupled with a flexible Recruiting platform impressed Taste Buds Management

Pandemic Response Paycor’s immediate product updates in response to new coronavirus legislation helped Michelle stay compliant and keep track of employees. “From a technical standpoint, being able to put someone on furlough in the system was great,” she said. “You created custom codes – that makes a big difference. Before it was either you’re hired or you’re not. Now, I’ll be able to sort these specific dates and it will help me make more informed decisions.” “We didn’t know how to handle COVID-19 and Paycor very quickly figured it out. As a partner, you definitely stood out as an authority—you navigated the messiness and gave us direction. Whatever you’re doing to keep your staff focused on the client, it’s working. You have a winning...

Virtual Interviews: Best Practices for Remote Recruiting

Virtual Interviews: Best Practices for Remote Recruiting

Remote recruiting makes everyone a little nervous, at least at first. Conducting interviews by video conference just doesn’t sound appealing—can you really read someone’s body language on video? What if the internet connection is bad? All these obstacles and more might make you long for the days when in-person interviews were the norm. But don’t give up on remote recruiting. Here’s how to make it better. The Benefit of Virtual Interviews Remote recruiting has advantages. It’s cost-effective, saves time and broadens your pool of candidates to include people who live out of state or even out of the country. If you commit to remote hiring, there’s no reason for it to be any less effective than in-person interviews. Before the Remote...

How to Achieve Diversity in the Workplace

How to Achieve Diversity in the Workplace

Cultural Diversity Organizational Diversity Diversity in Recruiting Elevate Onboarding Defining Diversity and Why It Matters Having tough conversations about diversity and working towards a more inclusive environment is a part of any successful business. But what, exactly, is diversity? We define diversity as understanding, accepting, and valuing differences in races, ethnicities, genders, ages and more. Diversity can also include recognizing and respecting differences in education, skill sets, abilities and experiences. In order to address diversity in the workplace, you have to be intentional. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and accept that achieving diversity isn’t easy. But it will be worth it in the long run—a...

Take Our HR Benchmarking Quizzes

Take Our HR Benchmarking Quizzes

Paycor's research shows that 75% of high-functioning HR teams spend their time on mastering key pillars of HR excellence. Want to know how your team stacks up against others? Take our benchmarking quizzes to find out and get customized action plans based on your results. Recruiting Benchmark Quiz Benefits Benchmark Quiz Labor Costs Benchmark Quiz People Management Benchmark Quiz Compliance Benchmark Quiz