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Govt drafting quotas for hiring disabled

THE Ministry of Social Affairs is leading an effort to draft a sub-decree that would establish disability hiring quotas for ministries and other government institutions, officials said Tuesday.

The quotas, required under the disability law passed in July, are part of a broader move to revise government hiring practices that have been described as inherently discriminatory.

Speaking at a conference on employment prospects for the disabled, Sem Sokha, a secretary of state at the Social Affairs Ministry, said Tuesday that the quotas would “help all the disabled people have more success in the labour sector and in the wider society”.

Few disabled people are able to find jobs, so the government should help them.

Thong Vinal, executive director of the Disability Action Council (DAC) and part of a 12-member working group tasked with drafting the sub-decree, said it was still too early to estimate what the quotas might be. He said the committee, made up of two officials from the DAC and 10 from the Social Affairs Ministry, was studying quota systems implemented in Japan as well as in neighbouring countries such as Thailand that he said “have similar situations to Cambodia for disabilities”, adding that quotas would also be adopted for the private sector.
Thong Vinal said the sub-decree would be drafted “maybe next year”.
Discrimination allegations
A report released in September by Handicap International criticised the government for discriminatory hiring practices, focusing in particular on the Ministry of Social Affairs, which it said “continued to stipulate in its hiring practices that candidates be ‘able-bodied’”.

Thong Vinal said the ministry had revised its requirements for job applicants and hired five disabled employees in the past year. Though he could not name the employees’ specific disabilities, he said they were physical disabilities, and that “some of them are in wheelchairs”.

The Handicap International report also criticised the Education Ministry for applying discriminatory hiring practices in government schools, though it noted that the ministry was revising its policies.

Thong Borann, the ministry’s staff director, said Tuesday that it employed fewer than 10 disabled people.

“Most disabled people in the ministry are teachers, but they are not seriously disabled. They are just missing an eye or a leg or a hand,” he said.

He said the ministry did not discriminate against disabled people. Rather, he said, the ministry had traditionally received few job applications from them.

Beyond problems in specific ministries, Thong Vinal said Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng had earlier this year encouraged the government to revise an article requiring that all civil servants have “appropriate physical appearance”, saying there were concerns it had been used to justify discriminatory hiring practices.

Ngin Saorath, executive director of the NGO Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation, said disability hiring quotas for the government were long overdue.

“We as NGOs are dissatisfied with the government because few disabled people are able to find jobs, so the government should help them more in both the state and private sectors,” he said.

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