LCQ14: Employment of persons with disabilities

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Fernando Cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (June 22):


     In 2013, the poverty rates of persons with disabilities (PWDs) before and after policy intervention were 45.3 per cent and 29.5 per cent respectively, which were higher than the 19.9 per cent and 14.5 per cent of the overall population in the same period; among PWDs at working-age (aged 18 to 64), the respective percentages of them being economically active and unemployed were 39.1 per cent and 6.7 per cent, which were far worse than the 72.8 per cent and 3.7 per cent of the overall population in the same period. Regarding the statistics on (a) the overall population, (b) population of PWDs and (c) population of the visually impaired, will the Government inform this Council of:

(1) the respective employment data (including the figures and percentages of the unemployed population, economically inactive population and underemployed population) in 2013 of the aforesaid three populations and such data of those among them with tertiary education qualifications, and set out breakdowns by age group respectively using tables of the same format as Table 1;

(2) the respective figures on the distribution of occupation and monthly employment earnings in 2013 of those persons among the aforesaid three populations who have tertiary education qualifications, and set out the breakdowns by (i) non-degree holders and (ii) degree holders respectively using tables of the same format as Table 2; and

(3) the new policy in place to assist the visually impaired and other PWDs in securing employment, so as to alleviate their poverty situation and improve their quality of lives?



     My reply to the questions raised by the Dr Hon Fernando Cheung is as follows:

(1) and (2) According to the General Household Survey and the Survey on Persons with Disabilities and Chronic Diseases conducted by the Census and Statistics Department in 2013, the statistics on unemployed persons, economically inactive persons and underemployed persons of the overall population (Note), persons with disabilities and persons with seeing difficulty aged 15-64 in 2013 are at Annex 1; the occupation and employment earnings of employed persons with post-secondary education are at Annex 2.

(3) The Government's policy objective is to provide skill training and support services for persons with disabilities (including the visually impaired) to enable them to find appropriate jobs on the basis of their abilities rather than disabilities and, at the same time, provide assistance for employers and strive to promote an inclusive society.  These services include:

(a) providing on-the-job training and various vocational rehabilitation services, such as Sheltered Workshop, Supported Employment, Integrated Vocational Rehabilitation Services Centre, Integrated Vocational Training Centre and On the Job Training Programme etc.;

(b) providing free personalised employment services for job seekers with disabilities and free recruitment service for employers intending to employ persons with disabilities;

(c) providing allowance for employers: an eligible employer who employs a person with disabilities with employment difficulties is entitled to an allowance equivalent to the amount of actual salary paid to the employee with disabilities minus $500 per month during the first two months of employment, subject to a monthly ceiling of $5,500.  After the first two months, the employer is entitled to an allowance equivalent to two-thirds of the actual monthly salary paid to the employee concerned, subject to a ceiling of $4,000 per month, for a maximum payment period up to six months;

(d) providing subsidy to employers who employ employees with disabilities for procuring assistive devices and carrying out workplace modification works.  Employers can apply for a maximum subsidy of $20,000 for each employee with disabilities for carrying out workplace modification works and/or procuring assistive devices, or a maximum support level of $40,000 for procurement of a single assistive device and its essential accessories; and

(e) offering a grant not exceeding $2 million to eligible enterprises to meet the set-up capital cost and the operating loss incurred in the first three years of operation of the business; each funded business must have at least 50 per cent of the employees being persons with disabilities with a view to creating more work opportunities for persons with disabilities directly.

     To further promote the employment of persons with disabilities, the Commission on Poverty endorsed two pilot schemes funded by the Community Care Fund at its meeting on June 13, 2016:

(a) raising the maximum level of disregarded earnings for disabled recipients under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance from the existing $2,500 to $4,000 per month; and

(b) providing additional subsidy of $5,000 per month for Higher Disability Allowance recipients in paid employment to hire carers.

     The Government estimates that applications under these schemes will be accepted from October 2016.

     In addition, the Labour Department will launch a pilot scheme in the second half of 2016 to engage a non-governmental organisation to help job seekers with disabilities in need of counselling service.

Note: Overall population refers to the "land-based non-institutional population" under Census and Statistics Department's General Household Survey.  It covers about 99 per cent of the Hong Kong Resident Population and does not cover inmates of institutions and persons living on board vessels, and is the same as the "land-based non-institutional population" mentioned in Annexes.

Ends/Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:17