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ILO Adopts Guidelines for Disabled Workers

The International Labor Organization Monday adopted a code of principles and guidelines on how to treat disabled people in the workplace. The adoption of the ILO code coincides with the observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons.

The International Labor Organization says there are more than 600 million disabled people in the world - about 386 million of them are of working age. The ILO says 80 percent of all disabled people live in developing countries, mainly in rural areas, and many of them are unable to work.

An ILO spokesman, John Doohan, says disabled people face a variety of discriminations that prevent them from getting and keeping jobs. "They face prejudice," he said. "They are not hired. Their insurance costs can be higher. They face problems of access, and probably more than anything else, they confront a general view that they are somehow less qualified to perform work than people who are more or less physically able, as we might say."

Mr. Doohan acknowledges that disabled people may not be able to perform certain types of work. But then he adds this also is true of people who do not have physical or mental impairments. He says studies show that women and men with disabilities who have the right skills and are in the right job are capable and reliable employees and a proven asset in the workplace.

The ILO code says retaining people who have become disabled at work enables the employer to keep experienced workers in whom considerable investments have been made.

The ILO says employers who follow the code on disabled workers will benefit from having loyal, productive employees.