AN ASSESSMENT OF STATE AID FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF DISABLED PEOPLE BASED ON THE PRACTICE OF OTHER EU COUNTRIES

Laura Girlevičienė, Alina Kvietkauskienė

Abstract


Countries facing social problems that are related to people with disabilities use a variety of instruments and methods to address them. One such measure is State aid. However, the application of these measures does not always lead to the achievement of public policy goals, the improvement of indicators such as the integration of people with disabilities into the labour market, and the reduction of social exclusion. This paper examines a social problem related not only to the increase in the employment rate of people with disabilities, but also to research on improving the living standards of this group.
Lithuania has been promoting the employment of disabled people by providing State support for employing disabled people for more than a decade. It should be noted that this support scheme has remained practically unchanged throughout this period, and is provided to social enterprises where the employment of persons with disabilities provides limited opportunities for participation in society and does not change public attitudes towards persons with disabilities. This employment model shows sluggish progress in the reduction of unemployment and poverty among people with disabilities, and needs to be assessed and adjusted to implement various policy actions and measures. Efforts have been made to reform employment policy for people with disabilities since 2020, but these changes are not yet concrete, and State aid continues to be granted to disabled people employed based on a care-employment model. The impact of these changes may be insignificant in the future, so it is important for the State to fundamentally review the implemented policy based on the practice of other countries.
The novelty of this paper and its contribution to science are reflected in the assessment of the effectiveness of the policies implemented by European Union countries in the field of disabled people.
The aim of this article is to analyse the practices of other countries in order to develop an effective model for the employment of people with disabilities in the labour market. The analysis of EU countries for the period 2010–2018 is carried out according to the selected indicators, reflecting social exclusion and poverty. This analysis is performed using the SAW method, which integrates the values of the individual criteria of the countries analysed and the weights attributed to them into a single criterion. In this way, the best alternatives are ranked according to the values obtained, in which case countries are evaluated according to the effectiveness of the policy implementation. Considering the results of the evaluation, proposals for Lithuania are formulated.
According to the results of the multi-criteria evaluation, two countries – the Netherlands and Finland – have been the most successful in implementing poverty reduction and employment policies for people with disabilities over the period analysed. According to the Dutch and Finnish policy examples, two different reform models for Lithuania can be formulated. One of the proposed models focuses on the application of strict measures to promote the integration of disabled people into the labour market. This takes its form from an example of Dutch policy, and introduces quotas for employers to employ a certain number of disabled people. In this case, the expected results would also be achieved without State aid, as the obligation to employ disabled people would be enshrined in legislation.
Another proposed model involves the application of more lenient measures, such as the provision of State aid to all companies willing to employ people with disabilities. As the support provided to social enterprises in Lithuania does not generate the expected benefits, in the case of this model it is expedient to rely on the Finnish experience and to grant State aid to social enterprises if persons with severe disabilities (0–25% working capacity level) are employed. The role of the public sector as a socially responsible employer hosting people with health problems is also crucial, and quotas for the employment of people with disabilities could be set for this sector.
As part of the reform under the proposed axes, the employment of disabled people would be directed towards an open labour market. In the short term, the impact of this reform on the reduction of poverty and material deprivation and on the social inclusion of people with disabilities would not be significant, but, in the long term, the participation of people with disabilities in the open labour market would lead to competitive wages and thus improve living conditions.


Keywords


State aid, employment of the disabled, social exclusion, expert evaluation, SAW method.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SD-21-19-1-01

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