Disability and employment: Recent developments in Pakistan

Jan 22, 2020

New legislations introduced in the Federal Capital Territory of Pakistan and the Provinces to ensure enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities pursuant to UNCRPD contain some onerous obligations for the employers.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was adopted in December 2006 and it came into force in May 2008. Pakistan signed UNCRPD in September 2008 and ratified it in July 2011.

The object of UNCRPD is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. Article 27 of UNCRPD recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others and obligates the States Parties, inter alia, to safeguard and promote the realization of this right by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation.

Previously, in Pakistan, the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981 (DPER Ordinance) provided for the employment of persons with disability. DPER Ordinance was a Federal legislation. However, after the right to legislate on certain subjects including employment and labour devolved upon the provincial legislatures under the Constitution (Eighteenth) Amendment, Act, 2010, each provincial assembly adopted DPER Ordinance with certain amendments.

DPER Ordinance called for establishment of local employment exchanges and registration of persons with disability with these employment exchanges. The law required that at least three percent (in some provinces, at least two percent) of total workforce in every organization should consist of persons with disabilities registered with the employment exchange of the relevant area. However, this requirement was applicable only to organizations meeting certain specified threshold.

In May 2017, the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan enacted the Balochistan Persons with Disabilities Act, 2017 (BPD Act), to give effect to UNCRPD in the Province of Balochistan. Next year, the Provincial Assembly of Sindh enacted the Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 (SEPD Act) in order to implement UNCRPD in the Province of Sindh. Most recently, the Federal Government enacted the ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020 (ICTRPD Act) to give effect to UNCRPD in the Federal Capital Territory.

Each of these legislations puts in place an institutional framework for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in line with UNCRPD. In some respects, these legislations are similar in scope. For instance, each of these legislations prohibits businesses from discriminating against any person on the ground of disabilities in the matters of employment, promotion and career development. Likewise, each legislation calls for the provision of reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities.

However, in certain aspects, these legislations differ from each other and, most importantly, from the previous law on this subject, i.e., DPER Ordinance. The most significant departure from DPER Ordinance is in relation to the application of these legislations which extends to a number of organizations that were outside the scope of DPER Ordinance. Each legislation requires a specified employment quota in the organizations to which it applies to be reserved for persons with disabilities. The employment quota may go up to five percent of the total workforce in an organization.

Each enactment requires the employers to contribute to a government fund in case they fail to employ the prescribed number of persons with disability. The amount of contribution may go up to double the rate fixed by the government as minimum salary payable to a person with disability.

The employment and labour in Pakistan are regulated by numerous provincial enactments and sometimes it becomes difficult for the employers to keep a track of the applicable laws and to ensure a timely compliance thereof. Majeed & Partners, Advocates & Counsellors At Law has an experienced team which has an extensive experience and up to date knowledge of local labour laws. Our lawyers interact with the labour department officials on a routine basis and are very familiar with the local regulatory environment. In case you require any assistance or further information, please feel free to contact us.

DISCLAIMER: This Client Update is a source of general information for clients and friends of Majeed & Partners. The information provided in this Client Update does not, nor is it intended to, constitute legal advice, and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not take or refrain from taking any action based on any information contained in this Client Alert without first seeking legal advice.

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