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The 13th Employment Week for People with Disabilities, which will continue until Friday, is taking place all over France with 150 events organised this week.
In an interview with Capital, Pierre Blanc, Managing Director of the 'Association for the Management of Funds for the Integration of People with Disabilities Into the Workplace' (Agefiph) said "employing people with disabilities is never a priority for small and medium-sized companies. However, they need to understand that the law has been toughened up and if they don't comply, companies will have to pay huge fines."
In the past, any companies with more than 20 employees would simply have to employ 6% of their staff among people with disabilities or pay a fine to Agefiph. Most people paid the fine because it was quite moderate. This fine is now going up to 1,500 times the hourly minimum wage per missing person with disabilities. This can easily add up to an annual salary's worth of fine.
Blanc comments, "at the beginning of the year 27,000 companies were at risk of having to pay the fine. We want to avoid that and help companies to comply with the law. By October this year we managed to get 11,000 companies into compliance but we estimate that by the end of the year there will still be between 6,000 and 8,000 companies, which will have to pay the fine."
"The biggest problem for people with disabilities is their lack of qualification. At the moment, there are only 12,000 students with disabilities in our universities. In 2008 Agefiph professionally trained 80,000 people with disabilities and enabled another 3,000 to start up their own companies."
"There are currently 140,000 job seekers with disabilities [in France] who are looking for a full-time job. If you add those who want a part-time job you get to 223,000. If French companies complied with the law and employed their quota of people with disabilities all these people would have a job. As it is, it will probably take 10 years for all companies to comply."