THE EFFECT OF LABOUR LEGISLATION IN THE PROMOTION AND INTEGRATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE LABOUR MARKET
Keywords:inequality in the workplace, persons with disabilities, need for equality, right of workers to employment, right to decent working conditions
An absence of adequate legislation in South Africa resulted in inequality in the workplace and in society in general. The new constitutional democracy with a Bill of Rights intended to address this by promulgated legislation, and today the South African Constitutional and legislative provisions promoting equality are viewed as amongst the most progressive in the world. In regard to persons with disabilities, this progressive legislation, aimed to protect against discrimination, still seems to fail the very people it intended to promote and protect.
The legislation created awareness of the need for equality and the right of workers to employment and to decent working conditions. The right to equality is accorded to everybody through the Constitution of South Africa. The Bill of Rights is based on the notion of equality before the law, and the prohibition of discrimination on various grounds.
Despite this, the perception exists that persons with disabilities as a minority group are still being marginalized and are restricted in their right to exercise the right to participate and make a meaningful contribution to the labour market. This not only seems to be in contradiction with the constitutional right to choose an occupation, but has wider social and economic consequences. The ethos of equality legislation is to ensure that the workplace is representative of the society we live in. It is understandable that labour as a social phenomenon is not only concerned with workplace-related issues but with aspects encompassing the whole of the socio-political and economic scene.
South African labour legislation promulgated over the last two decades strives to align with the conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisations and in terms of the obligations of South Africa as a member state.
However, the question prevails: is the legislation adequate to address the discrimination and inequality experienced by persons with disability? If so, why do statistics indicate such high unemployment amongst this group? Yet, there is a growing awareness that persons with disabilities represent enormous untapped economic potential.
According to the ILO report on The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities (1997), much has been accomplished in the international arena in recent years to improve the lives of disabled persons in the workplace.
This article will attempt to evaluate the efficacy of South African legislation in the promotion and integration of persons with disabilities in the labour market.
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