Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Poland's working toward more disability rights

From the Warsaw Business Journal:
The EC has approved new rules harmonizing aid to businesses that employ disabled workers.

New regulations for compensating businesses for the additional costs of employing disabled workers will soon enter into force after the European Commission passed a package of tax-exemption harmonization regulations. When Polish law is amended to reflect the new rules, the state will be allowed to refund up to 75 percent of the increased costs of hiring and insuring a disabled person.

The new rules will harmonize the amount of financial aid available for employing disabled people across the EU. It also gives automatic approval for a range of public aid measures, allowing EU member states to grant such aid without first notifying the Commission. The EC directive will enter into force at the end of August.

But in Poland, the new regulations may offer lower aid to employers of the disabled than those available under current Polish law, Monika Tykarska, the vice president of the Polish Organization of Disabled People’s Employers (POPON) told WBJ.

Today a Polish employer can count on relief ranging from 45 to 130 percent of zł.936 - the monthly minimum wage in December last year - depending on the type of workplace and the employee’s disability. The costs of employing disabled people are covered by the State Fund for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRON).

"The EU law does not always fit the local circumstances well," Tykarska said. Polish law requires all companies with more than 25 employees to hire disabled people. But out of over 2.5 million disabled people of working age in Poland, only 20 percent of them are employed, according to PFRON data.

Frequent changes in the labor law and the potential for various interpretations of the same regulation are the major factors discouraging employers from hiring the disabled, Tykarska said.