Addressing Under-Reporting of Persons with Disabilities

Many employers voice concerns that their persons with disabilities statistics do not fully reflect the representation of persons with disabilities in their workforce.

Possible reasons for under-reporting include:

  • inaccurate or inconsistent record–keeping
  • an aging workforce resulting in employees becoming disabled after hire
  • lack of perceived benefit to disclosure
  • fear of discrimination

3 strategies to reduce under-reporting

1.  Review employees appointed to supported employment positions.

It would be odd for any person appointed to a supported employment position to not also meet the criteria for persons with disabilities. However, HRMS data indicates that many supported employees go unrecorded. Cross-checking supported employment and affirmative action disability records are an easy way to identify individuals who may not have been recorded as a person with a disability.

2. Review employees who have received a reasonable accommodation.

Again, many employees who request a reasonable accommodation for a disabling condition also meet the criteria for persons with disabilities. Cross-checking reasonable accommodation and affirmative action disability records are an easy way to identify individuals who may not have been recorded as a person with a disability.

3. Re-survey existing employees.

Many employees either do not disclose their disability at the point of hire or acquire a disability after having been employed for several years. Employees may not report their disability because they don’t see it as relevant to their ability to work, or are never asked or given an opportunity to disclose.

Options for surveying employees may include conducting a targeted electronic survey or giving employees an opportunity to update their affirmative action records along with other employee data (e.g., emergency contact information) on an annual cycle.

Surveys should inform employees of the survey purpose, that participation is voluntary, that there will be no adverse impact, and that records will be kept confidential and separate from other employee records.