Just 15pc of disabled Irish women are in full-time jobs, survey shows

Just 32.6pc of people with disabilities were in any kind of paid employment in 2020, compared to 72.1pc of the population

Ireland has the EU's lowest employment rate for people with disabilities, particularly women.

Sarah Collins

Ireland is the most unequal country in the EU for people with disabilities, particularly women, a study has found.

Just 15pc of disabled women in Ireland were in full-time employment in 2020, according to the Brussels-based European Disability Forum (EDF).

It was the lowest rate in the EU, although the average across the bloc (for full-time employment) was not much higher, at 20pc. The rate for disabled men in Ireland was 23pc.

There was an almost 40-point gap between the overall employment rate of people with disabilities in Ireland and those without in 2020, the study found.

In Ireland, 32.6pc of people with disabilities were in paid employment (full or part-time) in 2020, compared to 72.1pc of the overall population.

The EU average employment rate for people with disabilities was 51.3pc.

The situation in Ireland improved during the first year of the pandemic, with the disability employment gap falling four points on 2019 levels.

People with disabilities in Ireland earn between €1,000 and €2,000 less per year than their counterparts without disabilities here, the study also found.

The EDF said that people with disabilities are often paid at or below the minimum wage, work part time, have precarious contracts or do isolated work.

A 2021 Department of Social Protection report found that Irish people with disabilities face extra day-to-day costs of between €8,700 and €10,000 a year. For those with high support needs the range increases to between €9,600 and €12,300.

However, the EDF study found that housing costs weigh less on disabled people in Ireland than they do in other EU countries, such as Greece or Denmark, in terms of the proportion of income spent.

According to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, people with an illness or disability make up the majority (40.2pc) of people that say they want to work but are not seeking work or available for work.

Ireland is one of 23 EU countries with a quota system in place for hiring people with disabilities, although it applies only to the public sector.

A grant is available for people with disabilities who work in the private sector to help pay for equipment or safety adaptations at their workplace.