Some of you would know that the Office of Chief Commissioner - Disabilities had organised a workshop titled "Consultative Workshop for framing draft guidelines for creation of non-disabling work environment for Government Employees with Disabilities to enable them to function smoothly in Government service." on 28 May 2013 at IIC, Delhi.
After the day long deliberations, wherein delegates from the disability sector, NGOs, government employees, national institutes etc. participated, a draft was subsequently sent to the DoPT. Click here for a copy of the said draft hereinafter called CCPD's June 2013 Draft
Now, almost after 8 months, the DoPT has come out with the final version of the document titled "Guidelines for providing certain facilities in respect of persons with disabilities who are already employed in Govt. for efficient performance of their duties" dated 14th Feb 2014 which is also uploaded on their website inviting comments from Ministries/ Departments. Click here for a copy of the said DoPT draft dt 14 Feb 14
I can with reasonable credibility, having been a participant at the CCPD's Workshop on 28 May 2013, and having contributed towards the CCPD's draft can safely conclude today that the draft met the similar fate as that of the Disability Rights Bill of 2011 today. This guideline has been diluted to a great extent. Here is a brief evaluation of the guideline.
- Placing the employee with an experienced employee for at least a month on resuming responsibilities of a post - that will allow him to pick up required skills to perform the job and also explore the adaptations needed in individual cases.
- Provision of assistive devices/ aids - good quality assistive devices, special chairs, software etc to improve the efficiency has been accepted in principle with a review every three years for upgraded versions. It requires the departments to provide for the cost of equipment or its reimbursement to the employee.
- Special casual leave of 15 days per annum - mainly for inpatient treatment in CGHS. I hope this is in addition to the existing sick leaves and all other leaves.
- Every ministry/department to arrange training in "Disability Equality and Etiquettes" for their liaison officers in consultation with CCPD.
- At the outset, the document doesn't come across as a rights giving document, it looks more like a doles giving document to the employees with disabilities.
- There are no budgetary provisions made nor there is any system that does need assessment of employees with disabilities. Hence the entire "amenities" are likely to be more subjective.
- It is seeking comments from ministries and not from general public or associations of employees with disabilities.
- It gives no legal sanctity to the disabled employee unions to discuss their issues as mandated by the UNCRPD.
- When compared with the CCPD draft, you will realise how 21 page draft has been reduced in to 4 pager policy. This has resulted in either things getting left out or made so vague that hence it may be difficult to seek its implementation.
- It misses out the reasonable accommodations needed for employees with disabilities to perform to the fullest.
- Due to limited applicability, it is feared by some quarters that it may not help employees in Banks etc. though I feel these would be equally applicable to scheduled banks as well who are under Min. of Finance.
- Also it is not indicated as a guiding document for the State governments who do not even recognise the identification list of the union of india as a guiding document.
- The DoPT has sought comments from the ministries and is likely to be finalized without any final involvement of the stakeholders..... which is against the basic theme of UNCRPD - "nothing about us without us". That is what the government had done even with the RPD Bill 2013 when it was quietly pushed in to parliament in utmost secrecy without involving the stakeholders.
- In the Identification of jobs, there is inherent bias visible in the guidelines when it says that each ministry ..... should identify the types of jobs which could be easily performed by them specially for group B, C & D...... Why should Group A be excluded? Do that think that disabled employees can not do the jobs of Group A?
I am leaving it to you to compare the two drafts available on the links above, and see for yourself how can a well meaning document be turned into a weak policy document nurtured with a charity mindset!
Here is the coverage in The Hindu on the subject today:
18 Feb 2014, AARTI DHAR
Proposals include preferences in transfers, postings and accommodation, reimbursement for assistive devices and special casual leave
The Central government has come up with a set of draft guidelines on providing certain facilities to its employees with disabilities to help them perform their duties efficiently.
The guidelines, released on Monday, include proposals such as preferences in transfers, postings and accommodation, reimbursement for assistive devices and special casual leave. Additionally, all ministries and departments, subordinate offices, PSUs, government companies, and cantonment boards would also have to identify the type of jobs that such employees may easily perform.
As far as possible, persons with disabilities will be exempted from rotational transfer and will be allowed to continue in the same job where they would have achieved the desired performance. Preference in place of posting at the time of transfer or promotion may be given to the persons with disability.
The induction training — an essential component of an employee’s service requirement — of all employees should take place together. Job-specific post-recruitment and pre- promotion training programmes are required to be organised for persons with disabilities.
The guidelines instruct ministries and departments to provide or reimburse, within a specific time frame, the cost of special assistive devices in accordance with the prices fixed by them in consultation with various national institutes specialising in disability care.