STATE minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Zavia Mayne is encouraging employers to recruit more disable people in an effort to achieve a more inclusive society.
Mayne was speaking at Wednesday's employee multi-purpose facility reopening ceremony at Red Stripe in St Andrew, in which the company invested $134 million in the construction of the facility.
“The Government is also committed to an inclusive society in keeping with Vision 2030. For this reason, we have promulgated the regulations to the Disabilities Act and the country's disability laws will take effect in February 2022,” Mayne said.
The Disabilities Act, first tabled in 2014, will make provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of people with disabilities across Jamaica. The legislation is also designed to protect and promote equal rights of the disabled and prohibits discrimination against them.
Adding that in order for the country to become a more inclusive society, Mayne said: “Employment of persons with disabilities cannot be excluded, we continue to lobby for the employment of persons with disabilities because we recognised that in Jamaica only a minute percentage of the persons with disabilities are employed.”
“We are taking steps to put provisions in place to make life a little easier for them. There are many persons with disabilities who want to be productive members of society [who are] proud of themselves whilst at the same time giving back to society like everybody else,” he continued.
At the same time, Mayne said, “Research has shown that persons with disabilities, once in the right job, perform as well as other employees; they build strong connections with customers, they boost staff morale and enhance a sense of teamwork, and also it is said that hiring people with disabilities enhances an organisation's image in the general community.”
Mayne also stated that in addition to the protection of the rights of people with disabilities and the need to reduce discrimination against this vulnerable groups within the society, the Government is also committed to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which is intended to prevent illness or injury at the workplace.
“The Act will also promote safe and healthy workplaces by way of collaboration of all stakeholders in the workplace,” he said.
“...So, we are therefore encouraging all employers to put the safety of the workers ahead of profit. An unsafe workplace can lead to loss of production time, severe legal and medical costs, damaged products and increased insurance payment and worst of all, loss of life,” he added.
In May, the labour ministry announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Act will be enacted before the end of this financial year after the Bill is retabled, following consultations with the chief parliamentary counsel, attorney general, and the Legal Reform Department.