'Disabled in workplace' bill expected to pass

A bill which would require large government bodies to meet a quota of 5% disabled employees approved for final Knesset vote.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Special in Uniform members
Special in Uniform members
Special in Uniform

Good news for Omer Lahat, a young man with cerebral palsy, and his peers. This week the Knesset is advancing a "affirmative action for disabled in the workplace bill", which would require public bodies with over 100 employees to boost the ratio of employees with disabilities to 5%.

Omer is serving in the Army with the "Special in Uniform" program together with hundreds of others with disabilities. Special in Uniform is a very unique program now operating in partnership with Jewish National Fund (JNF). It integrates young people with autism and other disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into Israeli society.

Omer visited the Knesset a few times to advocate for the bill and told the Knesset members: “We need to enable the inclusion of people with disabilities. My friends and I would like to take everything we learn in the army and to be able to find job opportunities when we are released from the army.”

The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Sunday approved for further plenum readings a bill that aims to boost the number of disabled people integrated into the workforce, by requiring large public bodies to meet quotas.

Under the terms of the bill, which passed its first reading in February, a government-funded body with more than 100 employees would be required to ensure that at least five percent of its workforce was employees with disabilities, including some with significant disabilities.

In addition, by the beginning of 2017, public bodies including the police, army and city halls with over 25 workers would be required to appoint a disabilities representative and to provide an annual disabilities plan listing available positions, and any projected future positions, that can be filled by people with disabilities.

The bipartisan bill, sponsored by MKs Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) and Yoav Kish (Likud), will pass to the Knesset plenum for a second and third reading next week.

Special in Uniform board member and Israel Electric Corporation senior vice president of regulation Oren Helman, who has campaigned on behalf of employment for the disabled, praised the bill.

“It is very exciting,” Helman said, predicting that the inclusion of disabled workers in the workforce would have financial benefit for the country. “This is tremendous news for the 880,000 people of a working age with disabilities who are living here. We will all make NIS 5 billion a year from this law, and we will live in a healthy and integrated society.”

This week the first groups of soldiers with disabilities of Special in Uniform are completing three years of service and the news from the Knesset arrived in a perfect time.

Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia, Director of development of Special in Uniform: “Our amazing young people that served in the IDF proved that they just have different abilities, they are extremely loyal and dedicated employees.

We launched a pilot program with the parks and gardens department of the local municipality; they are looking for young people after army service, motivated and passionate individuals who are ready to reinvent the cityscape. We believe that Special in Uniform graduates will be a perfect fit for the job, they will work as dedicated team players to help design and build green spaces, maintain and run the properties, keep parks safe, and bring our public lands to life with programs and events."

Special in Uniform members
Special in Uniform