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Draft disability law under discussion

Officials from the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs initiated groundbreaking discussions yesterday on a draft law that aims to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities.

Social Affairs minister Ith Sam Heng said yesterday that the purpose of the law was “to find the proper place for people with disabilities in the work place based on their capacity”.

Sem Sokha, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said that the draft law would create a classification system to categorize individuals with disabilities into separate, standardised groups based on their disability level.

This system is “very important”, Sem Sokha said, because it makes it easier for employers to determine capacity.

The new law would also set strict hiring mandates for employers. People with disabilities would have to comprise one per cent of a private firm’s workforce and two per cent of a public institution’s workforce.

Organisations not complying with the mandate would be fined an amount equal to the monthly salary of the firm’s highest-paid employee.

“All proceeds from the fine will go towards a public fund for individuals with disabilities,” Sem Sokha said.

This is a chance for disabled people to earn their own wage . . . with the help of this law, they will be able to work  for themselves.

The draft law comes on the heels of the Policy for Poor Disabled People, a June 27 sub-decree that created a disability pension in the Kingdom for the first time. Under the decree, which lacks an implementation timetable, seriously disabled, elderly disabled and seriously injured people living below the poverty line and without full-time employment would be entitled to 20,000 riel (US$5) from the government per month.
Cambodian Disabled Independent Living Organization Executive Director Ngin Saorath said that the current job market is narrow for people with disabilities because the government has not yet created a standardised classification system for this population. However, he said this draft law would “offer many benefits” if implemented correctly.

“With the help of this law, people with disabilities will be able to work for themselves.”

Sem Sokha echoed Ngin Saorath’s sentiments.

“This is a chance for disabled people to earn their own wage,” he said.  

Individuals with disabilities comprise 8.1 per cent of the country’s population, according to the Ministry of Planning’s Institute of Statistics – one of the highest rates in the world. In 2009, the International Labour Organisation identified people with disabilities as “among the most vulnerable groups in Cambodian society” on account of their lack of “equal access to education, training and employment”.

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