Experiences of employees with disabilities in terms of accommodation within the workplace as delineated in the Employment Equity Act, no.55 of 1998 : a qualitative study.
Phakathi, Sikhona S. L.
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In the democratic South Africa, legislation such as the Employment Equity Act has been put in place to promote the rights of people with disabilities and enjoins employers to provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. According to the Employment Equity Act, people with disabilities are entitled to equal opportunities in the labour market and both employers and employees with disabilities have a role to play in ensuring that reasonable accommodation is made available in the workplace. This study explored the experiences of employees with disabilities in relation to the issue of reasonable accommodation in the workplace in the South African context. The Social Model of Disability was applied in this study as framework upon which an understanding of disability as it obtains in the workplace could be built. The study also sought to establish how different forms of barriers influence the experiences of employees with disabilities. A qualitative research methodology was used in this study and this took the form of in-depth and semi-structured interviews. This study was conducted amongst employees with disabilities from two different organisations and the respondents were from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The data collected in this study was analysed using the Interpretative Phenomenological Approach. The findings of this study indicate that factors relating to reasonable accommodation, legislation on disability in the workplace, financial constraints, challenges, adjustment and adaptation strategies, opportunities, inclusion, workplace culture and organisational support all have an influence on the experiences of workers with disabilities. Thus, based on the findings of the study, it is argued that employers need to probe further into the issue of workplace reasonable accommodation with the view of attaining equity in the workplace.