International Journal of Disability Management


Workforce Participation Barriers for People With Disability

Anthony Hogana1 c1, Su Mon Kyaw-Myinta2, Debra Harrisa2 and Harmony Denrondena1

a1 School of Sociology, Australian National University, Australia

a2 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Australia


Access to meaningful and equitably paid work is an ongoing issue facing people with disabilities across the world. This article is concerned with the nature and extent of workplace accommodation currently made available in Australia to people with disabilities. The article is based on analysis of the Australian Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (2003). The article first ratifies existing findings in the literature that people with disability are less likely to be employed and where employed, are likely to be underemployed and underpaid. Restrictions in the ability to participate in paid work without accommodations were common with the need for accommodation varying from 43% through to 91%, depending on the nature of disability experienced. We identify the possibility that people with disability self-select themselves into workplaces where they can self-accommodate their own access needs. Generally, the extent of workplace accommodations provided were low (12%–27%). Known stratifying factors (gender, ethnicity, and education) exacerbated existing barriers to accessing employment. Workers with higher training needs were less likely to secure employment while people accessing the workplace with the benefit of an advocate were more likely to be in the workforce. Strategies for enhancing employment outcomes are discussed.


  • disability;
  • employment;
  • workplace accommodation;
  • employment restrictions


c1 Address for correspondence: Anthony Hogan PhD, Fellow, School of Sociology, Room 2156, Haydon Allen Building, Australian National University, Canberra NSW 0200, Australia. E-mail: