Unemployment is significantly more prevalent among the disabled than in the rest of the population. Often illness and subsequent courses of rehabilitation interrupt the careers of people with disabilities, limiting their chances on the labour market.
To enable the greatest number of those affected to have a working life despite all these difficulties, legislation imposes obligations on companies. Those with 20 or more employees are required to reserve 5 % of all positions for disabled workers. Companies which fail to meet this quota are subject to a compensatory levy for every one of these positions which remains unfilled. The revenue from this levy, which amounts to some half a billion euros annually, is used to promote vocational integration for the disabled.
Some companies are reluctant to hire people with disabilities because they cannot assess their capacity for work. Similarly, the especially strict legislation protecting disabled workers from dismissal and their additional holiday entitlement have often proved obstacles to employment. However, lack of information is still the greatest problem and one which REHADAT has set itself the task of alleviating. This project, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Labour and implemented by the IW, gathers information on the practice of vocational rehabilitation and makes it available on the internet. The data on assistive devices is also incorporated in EASTIN, a European network.