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Hungary to increase support for disabled employees, tap “potential hidden reserve” of workers

Disabled employees need help but work the same as others, president of conference organizer says

At a conference organized by the National Association of Protected Organizations (Védett Szervezetek Országos Szövetsége, VSOSZ), Attila Fülöp, State Secretary for Social Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources, said that the Hungarian government wants to help people with disabilities live independently. This means, the state and employers must help give the disabled access to as many areas of life as possible, along with their own income, but assistance must also come from local governments, NGOs, church organizations, and business associations.

The first such conference was established 30 years ago by VSOSZ. This year, the focus was on the employment situation and future of people with disabilities in Hungary and the European Union. Today, the employment rate of people with disabilities in Hungary is 42 percent, compared to 18 percent in 2011. Of the 4.4 million presently employed in Hungary, 150,000 are disabled and another 150,000 could be provided with “support, help, much effort and rehabilitation,” Fülöp added. Therefore, 365 accredited companies will receive HUF 43.4 billion in government subsidies this year to employ about 30,000 people with disabilities. Addressing the concerns and fears of employers who choose not to employ the disabled, Secretary Fülöp clarified that most companies employing those with disabilities have a “very positive opinion” of them. 

The president of VSOSZ, István Sindel, further added that despite needing help, employees with disabilities do not work worse than others, with half working four hours a day, and the rest up to eight hours. In terms of the expenses associated with disabled employees, Sindel noted that 88 percent of its member organizations spend state aid on hiring, and the remainder on accessibility as well as personal assistants, mentors, and consultants. He stated that the disabled are essentially an untapped workforce, with tens of thousands of people representing a “potential hidden reserve” of labor.

From January 1 this year, companies in Hungary have not had to pay a rehabilitation contribution tax up to twice the minimum wage if they employ a sufficient proportion or number of people with disabilities. State Secretary Fülöp, however, said that many companies do not take advantage of this tax break, choosing instead to pay (in total) a HUF 100 billion rehabilitation contribution tax and giving up some 70,000 workers with disabilities.

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