Employment and Disability: The Facts DFI Factsheet - Employment

Issued on May 1 2017

Employment and Disability: The Facts

31% of working age people with a disability were at work compared to 71% of those without a disability.[1]

Disability and Employment

People with disabilities are twice as likely to be outside the labour force as the general population.[2]

Too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems or disability, and too few people with reduced work capacity manage to remain in employment.[3]

Currently there are over a quarter of a million people with disabilities receiving a social welfare illness or disability weekly payment in Ireland. Almost half of these are receiving Disability Allowance.[4]

Training and Education

People with disabilities leave education earlier and are less likely to have completed primary, secondary, and third-level education than their peers.[5]

Workplace Grants and Employment Schemes for People with Disabilities

The government runs a number of schemes to encourage people with disabilities into work and incentivise employers to hire people with disabilities. These are programs such as the:

  • Wage Subsidy Scheme,
  • Employment Retention Grant Scheme,
  • Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant

Attitudes to Employment

People with disabilities would like to take up work but are often afraid because of the loss of benefits such as medical cards or transport supports.[6]

43% of people on Disability Allowance would like to work, given the right supports.[7]

Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities

In 2015, Government launched a national ten-year strategy to increase the number of people with disabilities in employment. It targets a 15% increase in employment of people with disabilities from 2011 to 2024.[8]


[1] Watson, D., Lawless, M., and Maitre, B. (2017) Employment transitions among people with a disability in Ireland.

[2] CSO, Census, 2011

[3] Make Work Pay Report 2017

[4] Make Work Pay Report 2017

[5] DSP 2016, Department of Social Protection Report on Disability Allowance Survey 2015

[6] Make Work Pay Report 2017

[7] Department of Social Protection Survey, 2015

[8] Comprehensive Employment Strategy (CES) for people with disabilities, 2015-2024