Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chicago organization reminds small businesses that they can receive tax benefits for hiring people with disabilities

From The Wall Street Journal:

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To that end, the nonprofit Health & Disability Advocates has spent the last few weeks trying to encourage small businesses to hire Americans with disabilities.

Barbara A. Otto, chief executive of the Chicago-based organization, says many are unaware of the tax benefits available to employers who hire disabled workers. For example, the federal government's Disabled Access Credit provides a credit of up to $10,000 for qualifying small businesses to help with expenses incurred while complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

.Small businesses typically don't have human-resources departments "so they don't have the resources at hand to look for disabled access tax credits," says Ms. Otto. "They need this kind of information."

Health & Disability Advocates, around since 1992, has spent this month getting its message out mostly through advertising. The effort dovetails with a program it launched in January called Think Beyond the Label aimed at helping employers of all sizes throughout the nation find local resources for recruiting disabled workers.

Small businesses employ more than half of disabled workers in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy. But this segment of the population is still struggling to land work, with an unemployment rate of 14.8% in September, compared with 9% for those with no disability.

Robert Stack, president of Community Options Inc., a Princeton, N.J., nonprofit that tries to help disabled workers find jobs, says small-business owners tend to assume such individuals require more time off for doctors' visits than nondisabled professionals. Others are afraid of getting sued if they have to lay off an employee with a disability, he says.

"They should try to look beyond the disability and focus on how the person can help them," he says. "A disabled person is usually grateful to get a job and apt to be on time."