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Disabled persons employment law to be repealed

18 May 2004

Disabled persons employment law to be repealed

People with disabilities employed in sheltered workshops will have the same minimum wage and employment rights as everyone else, under a Bill introduced to Parliament today.

The Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (Repeal and Related Matters) Bill will repeal the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act 1960 (DPEP Act) and amend the Minimum Wage Act 1983.

Disabilities Issues Minister Ruth Dyson says the Bill is a significant move towards removing a barrier to people with disabilities accessing the same employment rights and work conditions as others.

“The DPEP Act currently allows approved sheltered workshop providers some exemptions to the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and the Holidays Act 2003. Repealing the Act removes these blanket exemptions and gives people with disabilities who are employed in sheltered workshops the same employment conditions, rights and entitlements as everyone else, including minimum wage and statutory holiday provisions.

“The DPEP Act has been a long-standing source of dissatisfaction. Its repeal is a significant contribution to the government’s commitment to an inclusive society.

“The Act does not comply with domestic and international human rights legislation as it embodies outdated and inappropriate concepts about the ability, potential and rights of people with disabilities.

“Once the Act is repealed, sheltered workshops will continue to offer specialised environments for people with disabilities, with a range of vocational services and activities. What will change is the standard of the employment environment in which people with disabilities work,” Ruth Dyson said.

A transition period will allow providers and people employed in sheltered workshops time to adjust to the changes. Existing exemptions will be phased out over the transition period.

“I am particularly pleased to see that change is already occurring. A number of providers have already restructured their operations in anticipation of this legislation being repealed. Government officials are assisting providers and people working in sheltered workshops with this process,” Ruth Dyson said.

Providers will continue to receive direct assistance from government officials to develop their businesses to support employment, with specialist advisors and resources providing information and other professional support. Repealing the Act does not affect providers’ ability to seek or obtain government funding in the future.

ENDS

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