Monday, July 14, 2008

State pays fines rather than employ disabled

The Polish state prefers to pay millions of zloty in fines rather than employ the disabled.

Instead of employing the disabled, government offices and ministries prefer to spend millions from public finances on fines, reports the Rzeczpospolita daily.

The amounts are staggering. Last year, ministries paid a total of 6.5 million zloty in fees to the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities (PFRON) for not employing enough disabled people.

The Finance Ministry alone paid 1.2 million zloty.

The Ministry of Labour and Social policy employs the most people with disabilities (17), which is still three times less than required by law.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Justice, hire no disabled people at all. Other state-owned entities are not much better - the Social Insurance Company (ZUS) pays 2 mln zloty in fines a month; the Polish Post paid 67 mln zloty in 2007.

Employers hiring more than 25 employees must take care that at least six percent of them are people with disabilities. If they do not meet the requirement, they must pay an obligatory fee to PFRON. The fee is calculated in proportion to the number of employees, therefore it is no wonder that in big institutions, hiring thousands, the penalties add up to millions.

Jaroslaw Duda, government plenipotentiary for disabled people, wants to make the state offices stop the practice.