Sunday, August 30, 2009

Turkey starts up employment Web site for disabled people

From Today's Zaman in Turkey:

A major step was taken in Turkey with the Disabled Law, passed in 2005, which states that every company with more than 50 employees has to adhere to a 3 percent quota for disabled employees.

In order to encourage companies to hire more disabled people, the state also meets half of the insurance premiums for every disabled employee hired in addition to the required number. A Web site has recently been created to bring together job-seeking disabled people and companies looking for disabled employees. While aiming to promote the employment of disabled people, Turkey's first and only human resources Web portal for the disabled -- -- also aims to provide equal opportunities to the disabled, who face obstacles in the business world most of the time.

As General Manager Hasibe Kızıltaş notes,, meaning career without handicaps, was founded in February 2008 after four years of preparation. Offering high quality accessibility software technology specific to every disabled group, the site enables companies to access the best applicants as quickly as possible. According to data provided by Kızıltaş, the site has CVs of more than 4,000 disabled people.

“Having seen that employers were not able to access disabled applicants fast and effectively in other human resources Web sites, we decided to create this site,” stated the founder of the Web portal, Mehmet Kızıltaş -- a handicapped person himself -- in an interview with Sunday's Zaman. Polio-disabled Kızıltaş has directed several TV programs in addition to writing books and articles to raise social responsibility among the public regarding the disabled.

“Being employed plays a critical role in resolving a number of difficulties handicapped people face in their daily and social life. That is why disabled people need to be employed more when compared with others,” Kızıltaş said. Noting that employers are generally reluctant to hire disabled employees since they see them as a burden even if they are well educated, Kızıltaş said disabled job applicants generally have a lower chance when compared with others as the employer sees it an extra responsibility to arrange a working environment for the disabled. “It should not be forgotten that the disabled can be integrated into society with the support of people in addition to their families and the state. It is in the hands of employers to turn the disabled into individuals contributing to society rather than being a burden,” he added.

Despite the general public opinion that hiring handicapped people has negative effects on a company, Kızıltaş said employing handicapped staff is financially advantageous for employers. He recalled the legal obligation for employers to hire handicapped employees to some extent. Noting that hiring more disabled people than the required number brings significant economic advantages to employers with the government incentive, when staff expenditures are taken into consideration, Kızıltaş said: “However, such important incentives are being ignored due to prejudices against the disabled. Research has revealed that disabled employees make great contributions to the success of their companies since they perform very well given newfound responsibilities.”

Stressing that companies used to waste large amounts of money and effort in their search for qualified disabled employees, he said helps companies overcome this problem. “If an employer fills its 3 percent quota with unqualified disabled workers so as just to fulfill the legal requirement, the company loses efficiency. However, if the employer hires handicapped applicants in the correct positions in accordance with their career, education and potential, it will bring efficiency and success to the company. offers this opportunity to employers as the site provides detailed information about job applicants for employers,” he notes.

Apart from bringing employers and disabled employees together, also provides assistance for the disabled when they face difficulties in the business world. “Most disabled people face mobbing, which in the workplace involves hostile and unethical communication that is directed in a systematic manner by one or more individuals, mainly toward one individual. Those exposed to mobbing can contact the site via e-mail or phone. A group of experts including psychiatrists listen to the complainant and decide whether it is mobbing or not. Once they decide it is mobbing, they lend support to the mobbing victim until they find a solution,” Kızıltaş says.

According to the latest report issued by the Prime Ministry's Directorate for the Disabled in cooperation with the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), nearly 13 percent of the Turkish population -- approximately 8.5 million people -- has either physical or mental disabilities.