Thursday, October 21, 2010

Korea's businesses not doing their part to hire people with disabilities

From Korea Times:

Under the slogan, “The best welfare is job creation,” the government has been striving to increase the employment rate among disabled people, but it seems to be far from reality in the market as many business tycoons have been too stingy to hire them.

According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, physically or mentally challenged people make up less than 0.5 percent of the staff at the five affiliates of SK: SK Broadband marked 0.11 percent followed by F&U Credit Information’s 0.16 percent. Their sister companies, SK Communications, Pierce & Marketing and SK Marketing & Company marked around 0.3 percent.

The information was part of disclosure by the authorities of 275 private companies with disabled workers accounting for less than 0.5 percent of their workforce and 17 public organizations with the handicapped forming less than 1 percent of staff members.

Currently, private companies and public organizations are obliged to hire 2 percent of their staff in the form of disabled people while the quota for administration staff is set at 3 percent. Those who fail to meet the guidelines are subject to pay 510,000 won per vacancy in fines.

The top 30 corporations in the nation are lax in hiring disabled people. Hanjin Group had three affiliates that did not meet the 0.5 percent quota, and LG, Hanwha, Hyundai, Lotte and CJ had two each. CJ Olive Young, a nationwide drugstore franchise, had no disabled staff members. Samsung Foundation, a social welfare organization, marked only 0.2 percent.

It is not only the private sector that was reluctant to hire disabled people. The Korea Institute for National Unification, the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute and four others did not hire a single disabled person last year.

While the government is planning to expand the obligatory employment rate to 2.3 percent for the private sector and 3 percent for government and public corporations, some skeptics predict the policy won’t help the lives of ordinary disabled people very much. According to a recent survey by the Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled on companies with more than 200 employees, 29.2 percent, or the largest portion said, they do not hire disabled people because they are concerned about workplace safety.