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Employing people with disability: “It makes good business sense”

The retail industry is largely supportive of hiring people with disability, but until now, many employers haven’t known where to start.

The Australian Government has sought to rectify this with the launch today of a new toolkit that gives employers the resources they need to support employees with disability.

The toolkit, which is available online, includes straightforward videos, real-life case studies and downloadable resources to guide employers through the entire process of employing people with disability, from finding and interviewing job-seekers, to making adjustments in the workplace.

“These resources are specifically designed to be user-friendly so time-poor, corporate professionals can quickly access and absorb the practical information to assist them navigate disability employment,” Sarah Henderson, Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, said.

“Our goal is to create awareness and let all employers know that support is available. The Employer Toolkit is there to help.”

Support for employers who want to employ people with disability is crucial, according to Raylee McLeod, a McDonald’s franchisee who runs six stores in NSW.

“Sometimes it can be really difficult to facilitate a change in the workplace. It might be that you have to spend more time training [people with disability] or communicate with them in a different way,” she said.

McLeod has been working with JobAccess, the Australian Government’s national hub for disability employment information and advice, since she first employed someone with a disability in one of her McDonald’s stores eight years ago.

Today, about 12 per cent of her employment base has a disability. McLeod says she is personally motivated to do what she can to provide job opportunities for people with disability.

“Owning the type of business we do, we can be a very good first solution for someone, to help them get their first job under their belt and on their resume,” she told IR.

But it’s not purely altruistic. McLeod says most of the individuals she has employed have added value to the business.

“It makes good business sense. Customers and staff members love that you give opportunities to people; it’s good for morale,” she said.

McLeod hopes that the toolkit will empower other employers to hire people with disability, now that the information and support is readily available.

“I just hope it [the toolkit] takes a bit of the mystery away for people who are thinking about employing someone with a disability, or – as we say – an ability, so it doesn’t seem like such a scary process.”

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