Thousands of disabled individuals in the Czech Republic risk losing their employment due to an upcoming amendment to the Employment Act, warn organizations representing these workers and their employers. The cause is the planned amendment that will limit state support.
The amendment is being prepared by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and proposes introducing a cap on operating cost contributions. These costs include transportation, work assistance, and adapting premises for disabled people. However, the primary concern is abolishing entitlement to support for persons with health impairments.
“Persons with health impairments do not qualify for disability pensions but suffer from permanent health issues. These could be individuals with mild intellectual disabilities who can supervise simpler tasks,” said Václav Krása, the National Council of Persons with Health Impairments Chairman.
Krása estimates there are around six thousand such individuals, and the state contributes roughly five to six thousand Czech crowns per month for each.
The aim of the Ministry, according to spokesperson Jakub Augusty, is to streamline support. “Those whose residual work potential allows will be directed to the open labor market,” he explained. He added that individuals with health impairments, unlike disabled individuals, can engage in continuous employment or other gainful activities.
Krása believes that the discontinuation of support is a mistake. He emphasizes that the productivity of people with health impairments is generally low. Therefore, the support was introduced to encourage employers to hire them.
Ladislav Valenta, the President of the Chamber of Employers of Disabled People, shares the same perspective. “People with health impairments are individuals who, for instance, have lost their disability pension or are in poor health, and nobody else will employ them,” he stated.
The Ministry expects the changes to save around 630 million Czech crowns. However, both Krása and Valenta refute this estimation. “The minister’s fiction that these individuals will find their footing in the open job market is misguided. They will end up on social benefits, costing the state four to five times more,” warned Valenta.
“We have calculated that the state spends up to 400,000 crowns annually on a severely disabled person who does not work and relies solely on the system,” stated Krása. However, when employed, they earn a portion of their income. According to Krása’s estimate, there are approximately ten thousand such individuals.
The cap on operating costs is not yet specified, according to Augusty. “Some employers purposefully report inflated expenses in disproportionately high amounts, attempting to secure the maximum contribution, which is 15,200 crowns,” criticized the spokesperson. He believes that setting a cap will streamline support.