Rights and Responsibilities

Do people with Disabilities have equal employment rights?

Yes. Employees with disabilities have the same employment rights as other employees under the law.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 outlaw discrimination on the grounds of disability in employment, including training and recruitment. However, the Acts state that an employer is not obliged to recruit or retain a person who is not fully competent or capable of undertaking the duties attached to a job.

What is Disability?

The Employment Equality Act, 1998 defines ‘disability’ as:

"the total or partial absence of a person's bodily or mental functions, including the absence of a part of a person's body, the presence in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness, the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body, a condition or malfunction which results in a person learning differently from a person without the condition or malfunction, or a condition, illness or disease which affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behaviour".

The Act also states that disability “shall be taken to include a disability which exists at present, or which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person”.

An imputed disability is where a person might not have a disability but someone else thinks they do.

The Disability Act 2005 defines ‘disability’:

“… in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.”

Census 2011, and other official surveys, used the following definition of a person with disability:

A person with one or more of the following long-lasting conditions or difficulties:

  • Blindness or a severe vision impairment
  • Deafness or a severe hearing impairment
  • An intellectual disability
  • A difficulty with learning, remembering or concentrating
  • A difficulty with basic physical activities
  • A psychological or emotional condition
  • A difficulty with pain, breathing, or any other chronic illness or condition

There is no definitive list of conditions that constitute a disability

Note: Disability can be visible or invisible and may or may not be disclosed.