Survey: HR Officials Mostly Clueless About Disability Hiring Incentives

April 25, 2003 ( - Fewer than one in five HR professionals in a recent survey knew about government tax credits aimed at fostering the hiring of the disabled.

The reason, according to the Employer Incentives for Hiring Individuals with Disabilities Survey: the government isn’t very effective in telling hiring managers about the seven available tax credit programs. The HR respondents gave their strongest endorsement to the survey’s statement, “the government should do a better job of communicating available tax incentives for hiring individuals with disabilities.”

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted the poll in conjunction with the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Wichita State University.

The fact that fewer than 20% of HR professionals reported being very familiar with any of these tax credits is reflected in their use. According to the survey, 77% reported not taking advantage of any of them in their hiring practices.

“It’s unfortunate so few employers have taken advantage of the incentives available to them to hire persons with disabilities,” said Deb Cohen, SHRM vice president of knowledge development, in a statement. “With one in 10 people estimated to have a severe disability, a large portion of the population is potentially being overlooked during the recruiting and hiring process. Often, employers are unaware of the incentives available to alleviate costs associated with providing accommodations to disabled employees. In addition, employers are often unaware that many accommodations made for people with disabilities are made with no cost to the employer.”

Other survey findings include:

  • The most used incentive program, with just 16% of companies participating, is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
  • HR professionals believe the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has had a positive impact on changing the climate toward hiring individuals with disabilities, yet, they also believe the ADA has created an increased fear of lawsuits from compliance issues.
  • 38% of reasonable accommodations made for employees with disabilities cost nothing and an additional 28% cost $1,000 or less. The ADA requires employers to offer disabled workers “reasonable accommodations” to better allow them to perform their job.
  • 13% of respondents reported a member of their senior management has a disability.