As more people with disabilities enter the workforce and begin looking for employment, it is important that as a business owner or operator you understand the incredible benefits that you could be enjoying by hiring employees of all abilities.
The EmployAbility Toolkit provides information on financial and tax incentives, how and why hiring people of all abilities is good for your business and where to find qualified employees.
EmployAbility is just one of the ways in which New York State is working to make it easier for you to expand your workforce to be inclusive and to improve your bottom line.
The EmployAbility Toolkit was compiled by a consortium of New York State agencies and disability organizations including the Inclusive Workforce Alliance (IWA) and Our Ability, Inc, this state's chapter of a national non-profit Disability: IN that helps businesses drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace.
Take the EmployAbility Pledge and demonstrate that your business or organization is committed to the spirit of inclusivity by employing qualified people with disabilities and providing everyone full opportunities to be your patrons and customers. See the name of your business or organization on our EmployAbility Honor Roll.
Top 5 Reasons to Employ Ability
1. Job Retention: employees are known for being loyal to their employers and often remain at their jobs for years, thereby reducing turnover.
2. Dependability and Flexibility: employees with disabilities have lower rates of absenteeism; reports of perfect attendance are not uncommon. When asked, employees with disabilities will often fill in for co-workers who have missed their shifts.
3. Attitude: employee pride is demonstrated by coming to work with a positive, can-do attitude. Employees with disabilities are often very motivated; they report to work every day ready, willing and able to perform.
4. Pre-screened: every effort is made to pre-screen candidates for employment to ensure that the applicant meets the minimum qualifications of the job. If needed or desired by the employer, the person can be trained to the employer’s specifications by skilled job coaches, thereby reducing employer training time, and costs.
5. Employee Morale: many businesses report that employing people with disabilities increases the morale and productivity of every employee.
Hiring qualified workers of all abilities just makes good business sense!
The Business Case
Hiring a qualified person with a disability brings greater benefits beyond filling an open job – it makes sense for business! Here are just a few points of impact for your business:
Reason #1: Return on Investment (ROI)
Businesses that employ people with disabilities turn social issues into business opportunities. These opportunities translate into lower costs, higher revenues and increased profits. Capitalize on the ROI of employing people with disabilities:
• Access new markets
• Improve productivity through innovative and effective ways of doing business
• Reduce hiring and training costs
• Increase retention
ENHANCE SHAREHOLDER VALUE
• Capitalize on opportunities to meet business goals
Reason #2: Marketing
Customers with disabilities and their families, friends and associates represent a trillion dollar market segment, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s AskEarn.org. They, like other market segments, purchase products and services from companies that best meet their needs.
CAPITALIZE ON NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITIES
• Mirror the market to attract a wider customer base
• Increase your market share
DEVELOP NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
• Respond to marketplace needs
• Lead your market
• Increase profitability
Reason #3: Innovation
Innovation is key to the success of your business. Employees with disabilities bring unique experiences and understanding that transform a workplace and enhance products and services. When individuals with disabilities integrate into your team they can bring these experiences to bear, helping to build your business and lead your company into the future, together.
• Create more efficient and effective business processes
• Create customized flexible job descriptions that attract and retain qualified talent
• Develop and implement unique management strategies
• Use technology in new ways to increase productivity
PRODUCT AND SERVICE INNOVATION
• Stimulate new product and service development through disability-inclusive diverse teams
• Customize products and services to increase profitability
DEFINE THE FUTURE
• Foster the development of next-generation products and services
(Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy)
Financial Incentives and Tax Credits
Financial Incentives and Tax Credits for Businesses that Employ People with Disabilities
(New York State Employment and Workforce Solutions, Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (askEarn.org), ACCES-VR)
Although most employers do not consider financial incentives and tax credits as their main reason for hiring individuals with disabilities, employers that do business in New York State and hire individuals who have a disability can trim their labor costs through several workforce and economic development programs. Employment-based tax credits may save your business money by cutting federal or state tax liability.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is the primary federal tax credit that benefits employers who hire workers with disabilities.
Who May Be Eligible? Firms that hire workers who have received Social Security Income (SSI) benefits within 60 days prior to being hired, or who are referred to the firm by a vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency.
How It Works: Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the WOTC provides support to employers by reimbursing a percentage of a worker’s wages for up to two years. The maximum amount of reimbursement varies based on the background of the individual hired.
Highlights: For workers hired under this program, firms are eligible for a 25 percent reimbursement of first-year wages once the employee has worked 120 hours; workers who work 400 hours result in a 40 percent reimbursement. The maximum reimbursement possible per worker in this category is $2,400.
The New York State funded employment programs can help identify potential employees meeting WOTC tax credit criteria and may be able to provide additional support.
NYS Workers Employment Tax Credit (WETC)
Businesses that employ people with disabilities who currently receive vocational rehabilitation services (or people who received them up to two years prior to hire) may earn $2,100 more in state tax credits. You get the credit during the second year of employment and can combine it with the WOTC credit.
NYS Workers with Disabilities Tax Credit (WDTC)
For-profit businesses and organizations that hire individuals with developmental disabilities may earn up to $5,000 for full-time employment (30 hours or more per week), and up to $2,500 for part-time employment (between 8 hours and 30 hours per week) in state tax credit. The period of employment must be no less than six months. If the amount of the credit exceeds the entity’s tax liability, then the tax credit may be carried over for the following three years. Note: Businesses cannot claim this tax credit for an individual they hire if they are already claiming another tax credit for that individual.
Businesses with fewer than 30 employees and no more than $1 million in gross receipts in the preceding year can receive a tax credit of up to 50% of “eligible access expenditures”—eligible expenses include the removal of barriers —architectural, communication, or transportation—including modification of equipment and the use of interpreters, taped text, or alternative format for communication. A small business is eligible for a 50 percent tax credit on expenditures between $250 and $10,250, with a maximum credit of $5,000 per year. This credit can be “carried backward” up to three years and forwarded up to 15 years to subsidize larger expenditures at up to $5,000 per year. Visit the IRS website for more information about tax benefits.
Barrier Removal Tax Deduction
Businesses of any size can take an annual deduction of up to $15,000 for expenses related to removing physical, structural, and transportation barriers for people with disabilities
The ACCES-VR Business Relations Team in your area will facilitate the completion of all tax credit request forms.
Additional information is available at the IRS website.
WTO can offset many of the costs associated with hiring new employees, and also assures the employer that the employee is right for the job. ACCES-VR can reimburse a business for 100% of an employee's wages for up to 480 hours. This offers the business the opportunity to evaluate the employee's ability to satisfactorily perform the job. This wage reimbursement program requires the business to place the new hire on the company payroll and cover them with all benefits including Worker's Compensation and Social Security. Reimbursement occurs whether the employment outcome is successful or not. The try-out period length is determined jointly by the employer and the ACCES-VR or NYSCB representative. The ACCES-VR WTO reimbursement breakout is calculated on an hourly basis with a maximum of 480 hours reimbursed at 100% gross wage.
ACCES-VR and NYSCB can reimburse a business for the wages paid during the training of a new employee.
The ACCES-VR counselor and the employer will agree upon the length of the training period appropriate to the job. Upon the final retention of the trainee, the business will be eligible for all applicable tax credits.
Employment Specialist Services: Supported Employment Agencies funded through New York State can help identify the employee’s interest, skills and abilities and provide job readiness services and employer services. Once a person is hired, the supported employment agency provides individualized job training and coaching to assist the individual in meeting business expectations. Agencies maintain ongoing contact as needed with both the business and employee should the need arise for additional training or other supports to help the employee successfully remain on the job.
Employment Training Program (ETP): ETP, funded by OPWDD, provides a wage subsidy for people with developmental disabilities who work for local businesses. Participants in ETP are assessed for their interest, abilities and skills, and then matched with a business that has similar employment needs. While the worker is in training, OPWDD pays their wages until business standards are met and the person is officially hired, generally within one year.
Sources: (New York State Employment and Workforce Solutions, Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (askEarn.org), ACCES-VR)
Improve Your Inclusivity
When you’re looking at hiring qualified employees who may have disabilities, here are some tips from successful employers to help you get started:
Learn about local available resources for training, awareness, and support. This toolkit provides a number of links, suggested articles and websites.
Use tools like informational interviews, job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and Disability Mentoring Days to provide opportunities for individuals to explore options.
Participate in the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/
Include disability-specific information into training components for new and existing employees. To access training resources to help you with diversity training, contact Northeast ADA Center or ACCES-VR.
Join the Disability IN in your state.
Connect with state agencies that can connect you with qualified candidates; distribute position announcements to them. (NYS Education Department’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (ACCES-VR) http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr, NYS Department of Labor)
How do I Find Qualified Workers?
There are many agencies that can help you find qualified workers who have the skills to match your business needs.
NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL)
Division of Employment and Workforce Solutions – Business Services
State Office Campus Building 12, Room 425, Albany, NY 12240
Visit the website or contact a field office nearest you.
Place a Job Order on the NYS Job Bank
Career Fairs and Customized Recruitment
Skills Matching Services (NY Talent)
New York Employment Services System (NYESS)
44 Holland Avenue Albany, NY 12229 518.473.6579
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234
Visit the website for information about how to contact the Business Relations Team in your area.
Pre-screened, skilled job applicants
Wage reimbursement program options
Assistance with the application process for Federal and NYS tax credits
Consultation and assistance on reasonable accommodations
Technical assistance and training on the ADA, including disability awareness and etiquette
Connection to Work Force Development: One-Stop Centers, the NYS Department of Labor
Ongoing follow-up services to ensure your satisfaction
Commission for the Blind
New York State Office of Children and Family Services
52 Washington Street, South 201
Rensselaer, NY 12144
Our Ability Connect
19 Timber Lane Glenmont, NY 12077
Our Ability Connect -- an individual digital profile service you build created to promote future employment for people with disabilities through mentor networking, social engagement, and personal empowerment. Our Ability Connect gives employers the ability to reach out to people with disabilities by searching, connecting directly with people in our system and posting employment opportunities in order to recruit the best candidates for open positions.
3000 Potomac Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305
NYS Office of Mental Health
44 Holland Avenue
Albany, NY 12229
(or Contact any of the OMH Field Offices. See website for local addresses and phone numbers.)
NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
44 Holland Avenue
Albany, NY 12229
You can download a copy of the EmployAbility handbook online, or you can request a printed copy of the toolkit by sending an email to [email protected].
Employing Ability Success Stories
Many employers throughout New York State have already discovered that hiring people with developmental disabilities makes good sense. Here is a few of their stories.