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Code of good practice for the employment of people with disabilities

The purpose of this code of good practice is to provide a clear statement of the European Institutions’ policy in relation to the employment of people with disabilities and to provide guidelines to Directorates General and Services in this respect


The European Institutions take a positive attitude to disability and are committed to ensuring that all qualified European citizens should have an equal opportunity for employment on the basis only of their ability and suitability for the work.


In the context of employment within the Institutions "people with disabilities" means

  • "people with physical, sensory or intellectual impairments which may affect their ability either to do a particular job or to function effectively in a given physical environment".

Generalized assumptions about the capabilities or limitations of people with disabilities in the workplace are misleading. As with all employees, disabled people should be treated as individuals, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.


It is envisaged that each Institution will appoint an official or a body to be responsible for the implementation of this Code of Practice. This official will be guided by the Implementing Measures relating to this Code of Practice.


The European Institutions have a policy of equality of opportunity and selection on merit by means of fair and open competitions. For people with disabilities, all reasonable measures will be taken to ensure that they are able to participate in competitions on equal terms with other candidates.

  • Press publicity for competitions will include a statement affirming the Institutions’ commitment to equality of opportunity for candidates with disabilities.
  • The Guide for Candidates appearing in the Official Journal with the Notice of Competition will contain a paragraph specifically aimed at candidates with disabilities. Mention should be made of the Code of good Practice.
  • Application forms will request disabled candidates to detail the facilities they require to enable them to participate in the tests. Every effort will be made to ensure that they can participate on an equal basis with other candidates and all reasonable arrangements requested by disabled candidates will be adopted.
  • Derogations from age limits will be made for disabled candidates.
  • Training given to members of Selection Boards will include a module on disability awareness and the contents of this code of good practice. The possibility to attend this module will be open to staff of all institutions.


It is the statutory obligation of the Institutions - and essential if they are effectively to fulfil their mission - that they not only recruit officials of the highest standard of ability and efficiency but also ensure that promotion and career progression depend solely on merit and suitability for the job. Having passed with success through the same recruitment procedure as other staff, officials with disabilities have the right to the same opportunities fully to develop their potential and their careers within the Institutions. Care will be taken at all stages during the career of an official with disabilities to ensure the avoidance of job requirements that, whether intentionally or not, are not job-related and exclude people with disabilities.

  • Initial Appointment and Probation The Appointing Authority will use its best endeavours to ensure that disabled candidates placed on a competition reserve list will be offered appropriate posts. The Staff Regulations require that all candidates successful in a competition undergo a medical examination prior to appointment to ensure that they are physically fit to perform the duties for which they are being recruited. Disabled candidates will not be disqualified on the basis of their disability. Particular attention is required in assigning staff with disabilities to their initial post and when monitoring their performance during the probationary period.
  • Mobility Every effort will be made to ensure that staff with disabilities have the same opportunities as others to increase their experience and develop their career by means of mobility within the Institutions. The career of an official in the European Institutions is determined primarily by the individual’s own ability and ambition ; it also depends on experience gained in a variety of different jobs. Whilst it is recognized that some staff with disabilities may not be able to undertake the duties of all posts within the services of the Institutions, it is important that their mobility is not disadvantaged by uninformed assumptions or stereotyping.
  • Training Staff with disabilities have the same access to training as other staff. The acquisition of new skills and knowledge is an important prerequisite for the career development of all officials ; it can obviously be of particular importance for officials with disabilities. Every effort will be made to enable staff with disabilities to participate in training courses and programmes organized by the particular institution. All reasonable steps will be taken to enable staff with disabilities to participate in training courses and programmes. Where in-house training is unavailable or inappropriate, all reasonable steps will be taken to locate an external provision.
  • Staff Assessment and Promotion Disability shall not constitute a reason for assessors and promotion committees to depart form the normal objective criteria used to judge the merits of officials.
  • Retention of Staff The Institutions will use their best efforts to retain in employment those staff members who become disabled in the course of their careers, and wish to remain in service. The retention of staff responds to the need to optimise human ressources. The use of technical support, the reorganization of work and flexible or part-time working, can enable the Institutions to benefit from the knowledge and experience of officials who become disabled.


Whilst most staff with disabilities can operate effectively without requiring modifications to their working environment, special facilities are required by some. The Institutions will endeavour to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to minimize problems which may face some staff with disabilities

  • Buildings All new buildings for occupation by employees of the Institutions will comply with the relevant national legislation in respect of the access and utilization of public buildings by disabled people. Unadapted buildings, or buildings falling below a reasonable level in this respect, will be progressively improved, subject to the availability of budgetary provision, or abandoned. The Institutions will adopt criteria which govern the adaptation of their buildings in order to respond to the needs of disabled persons in the work place. The principles contained in the Commission document "Immeuble-type" (1992 version) will, for the moment constitute these criteria. When the new version of this document is approved, the norms and principles it contains will be immediately applicable The Institutions will take all reasonable steps to ensure that officials with disabilities are allocated office accommodation compatible with the needs of their particular disability.
  • Office equipment and furnishings Officials with disabilities will be consulted about special equipment or furniture which might enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in the performance of their duties. The Institutions will accept all reasonable requests for such material


This Code of good Practice will be distributed to all staff. Training courses for members of Selection Boards will include disability awareness training. This will be made available to other staff as necessary.

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Each official or body charged with implementing this Code of Good Practice will be responsible for matters concerning disabled people and notably the following :

  • "census" of disabled persons working in the Institutions . developing information and awareness of the code . ensuring the implementation of the training of selection boards . involving staff with disabilities in the implementation and the evaluation of the code . monitoring and reviewing procedures . centralizing information in respect of the careers of disabled officials . identifying appropriate jobs and functions . the development of an orientation function . highlighting successful experiences . outreach to organisations of people with disabilities . sharing information with other Institutions


  • 1. Publicity
    • An appropriate statement will be included in all press publicity. E.g. : "The Commission is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from qualified women and men irrespective of disability, race, religion or sexual orientation"
    • DG V will approach the services of the JOCE to ensure that European organizations representative of people with disabilities receive detail (e.g. on diskette) of all competitions published in the Official Journal.
    • The Guide for Candidates appearing in the Official Journal with the Notice of Competition could include, for example, a suitable succinct summary of the Institutions’ policy in respect of the recruitment and the subsequent career possibilities for people with disabilities.

  • 2 Participation in the tests The Selection Committee will decide, on a case by case basis, the measures to be adopted. These may include the following :
    • - that the tests be held elsewhere than in the main examination hall ;
    • the granting of special equipment ;
    • authorization of the presence of a carer or helper :
    • allowing extra time to complete the examinations ;
    • etc.

  • 3. Derogations from age limits The measures concerning derogations from age limits will be harmonized in the competitions of all Institutions, with the principle envisaged being that for candidates with disabilities the age limit is raised by five years ; any request for the age limit to be raised must be accompanied by a certificate issued by the appropriate authority attesting that its holder is disabled. Requests for the age limit to be raised will not be considered unless accompanied by the necessary supporting documents(s). Cumulated derogations shall not exceed eight years .


The training module on disability awareness will be presented by experts in the subject.


An individual analysis of the professional profile of those persons with disabilities figuring on the reserve list of competitions will be made in order to determine those services for which they are best suited.


The Medical Service should, if possible, indicate in its report those activities it considers the most appropriate and/or those it affirms as being unsuitable for individual candidates with disabilities.