Disability statistics - employment patterns
- Data extracted in September 2014. Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article shows the typical employment patterns found amongst working age individuals who have a disability. The article examines a number of different aspects of employment, such as hours (e.g. part-time work), work at home, level of responsibility, sector (as defined in the NACE Rev. 2 classification) and type of occupation (as defined in ISCO-08).
The article is part of an online publication on Disability based on data from the 2011 ad-hoc module of the EU Labour force survey. Data from this ad-hoc module refer to 2011 and updated figures are not available. It should however be noted that the socio-demographic information described in this article is structural and does not change significantly from year to year. In addition to the EU-28 Member States, the survey also covered Turkey, Iceland and Switzerland.
The results presented in this article are based on two definitions of disability:
- definition 1: people with disabilities are those who have a basic activity difficulty (such as seeing, hearing, walking, communicating);
- definition 2: people with disabilities are those who are limited in the work they can do because of a longstanding health problem and/or a basic activity difficulty (LHPAD).
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Over 15 % of employed people with disabilities worked from home in 2011, compared to 13 % of those with no disability
- 1.2 Little difference in the level of supervisory responsibility of people with or without basic activities difficulties
- 1.3 People with disabilities are more likely to work part-time
- 1.4 Over half of employed people with basic activity difficulties worked as skilled manual workers in Croatia and Romania
- 1.5 A higher-than-average proportion of people with disabilities worked in agriculture
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
Over 15 % of employed people with disabilities worked from home in 2011, compared to 13 % of those with no disability
The percentage of the total employed population (with and without disability) who work from home varies considerably between countries, ranging from around 20 % to 30 % in the Nordic Member States, Austria, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom to below 5 % in some southern and south-eastern European Member States.
In the EU as a whole, the proportion of people working from home (usually or sometimes) was higher amongst people with a disability (15 %) than others (13 %), irrespective of which of the two definitions of disability is used (see Table 1). This was true everywhere except Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Slovenia and Slovakia. In Iceland, the difference between the proportion of people with a disability and others (based on the second of the definitions given above) working from home was nearly 5 percentage points. Of the countries listed above, where more people without disabilities than those with disabilities worked from home (i.e. those going against the general trend), Denmark diverged most strongly; the proportion of people without a disability working from home exceeded the equivalent proportion of people with a disability by the largest margin (whichever definition was used).
Little difference in the level of supervisory responsibility of people with or without basic activities difficulties
At EU level, the difference in the level of supervisory responsibility of people with and without a disability (see definition 1), is not statistically significant (21.1 % against 22.5 %) (see Figure 1). At country level, however, more noticeable differences were found:
- In the Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the proportion of people with a basic activity difficulty who hold a position with supervisory responsibility was between 5 and 6 percentage points lower than among people with no such difficulties.
- In Austria, on the other hand, a higher proportion of people with basic activity difficulties than those without such difficulties had supervisory responsibility (26.6 % compared with 25.1 %).
- Iceland has a particularly high proportion of people exercising supervisory responsibilities (40 % of the total population surveyed, i.e. with or without basic activity difficulties).
- Romania and Slovakia formed a striking contrast to this; only around 10 % of the employed population performed this type of role.
If we apply the second definition of disability (limitation in work caused by a longstanding health problem and/or a basic activity difficulty (LHPAD), the difference in the proportion of people with and without a disability who have a supervisory responsibility is more pronounced (4 percentage points at EU level). The difference was largest in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and Luxembourg, at above 8 percentage points. In Estonia, Greece and Iceland, however, the proportion of people with disabilities holding supervisory responsibilities was higher than that of people with no limitations to their work activities.
People with disabilities are more likely to work part-time
In the EU as a whole, people who reported having a basic activity difficulty (definition 1 of disability) were more likely than others to be employed part-time (26 % compared to 18 %) (see Figure 2). A similar picture was observed at country level, with the exception of Austria, where the proportion of people working part-time was the same (23 %) for both groups.
- The Netherlands had the highest proportion of part-time employment in both groups, irrespective of the definition of disability used (under definition 1 61 % of those with a disability and 47 % of those without).
- In Greece, at the other end of the scale, part-time workers account for under 8 % of the total.
- The proportion of people with a disability (when defined as having a basic activity difficulty) working part-time was between 3 and 5 times higher than the equivalent proportion of people without a disability in the Czech Republic (14 % of people with a disability working part-time), Hungary (26 %) and Slovakia (13 %).
The proportion of EU residents with a disability working part-time was higher under the second definition of disability (33 %) than under the first definition (26 %). In individual countries, the proportion of people with a disability (under this second definition) who worked part-time ranged from 8 % in Greece to 67 % in the Netherlands. Only the Netherlands recorded a proportion of people without a disability (i.e. without a work limitation caused by a LHPAD) of over 40 %. The lowest rates of part-time employment for people without a disability were observed in Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where the proportion was under 5 %.
Over half of employed people with basic activity difficulties worked as skilled manual workers in Croatia and Romania
The proportion of the employed population aged 15-64 working as skilled manual workers varied significantly between countries, and particularly among people with disabilities (see Figure 3). In most countries, skilled manual workers accounted for a similar share of the population in work (less than 3-4 percentage points difference), whatever definition of disability was used. However, the difference exceeded 10 percentage points in some countries:
- under definition 1 (difficulty in basic activities ) in Greece (14 percentage points) and Croatia (21 percentage points)
- under definition 2 (a work limitation) in 6 countries (Greece and Croatia, as above, plus Austria, Lithuania, Poland and Romania).
Iceland was the only country with a larger share of skilled manual workers among those without a disability than among those with one. Under both definitions 1 and 2, the proportion of employed people with a disability working in skilled manual occupations was highest in Romania (54 % under definition 1, 62 % under definition 2), Croatia (52 %, 60 %), Greece (43 %, 51 %), and Poland (46 %, 48 %).
A higher-than-average proportion of people with disabilities worked in agriculture
The services sector employed about 70 % of the EU's total employed population (both with and without disability). Over 23 % of the population worked in industry and construction, while agriculture, forestry and fishing accounted for under 8 % of employment (data not shown). This latter sector employs a considerably larger proportion of the population, however, in certain countries, in particular amongst people whose ability to work is limited by a longstanding health problem and/or a difficulty in basic activities (disability as defined by definition 2). The proportion of people without disability employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing lay significantly above the EU average in Croatia and Greece (both around 11 %), Poland (around 12 %), Romania (over 24 %), and Turkey (around 20 %).
The proportion of people with a disability (under definition 2) employed in this sector was highest in Greece (27 %), Poland (28 %), Croatia (39 %), Romania (54 %), and Turkey (44 %).
Data sources and availability
The main data source used for this article is the EU Labour Force Survey. This is a quarterly, large sample survey providing results for the population living in private households in the EU, Iceland, Turkey and Switzerland.
In 2002 and 2011, the survey included an ad-hoc module on the employment situation of people with disabilities. This was designed to provide information on the labour-market situation of people with disabilities, compared to those without disabilities.
The right of people with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others is laid down in Article 27 of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. This includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities”. The following aspects are covered:
- protection for rights,
- access to education,
- public and private-sector employment,
- opportunities for self-employment,
- support to enable people with disabilities to work on an equal footing with others.
In recent years, a lot of European countries have introduced new policies and legislation on the employment of people with disabilities. This is borne out by the national reports on the employment of people with disabilities in European countries. We have seen new policies and laws on the following:
- the right to an interview (Poland, Denmark);
- help with adapting the workplace,
- employer incentives/subsidies,
- rights to flexible working,
- job matching,
- personal assistance at work,
- support for self-employment.
Despite these initiatives and the increased attention being given to integrating people with disabilities, a lot more remains to be done. Better information and coordination are needed.
Relatively little is known about the types of jobs held by people with disabilities and the sectors in which they are employed. This is partly due to the under-reporting of people with disabilities employed on the ordinary labour market. Such people are not always recorded as being subject to a limitation on the work they can perform or as receiving specific support.
Articles related to disability statistics
- Disability statistics - health
- Disability statistics - labour market access
- Disability statistics - barriers to employment
- Disability statistics - need for assistance
- Disability statistics - access to education and training
Further Eurostat information
- Employment of disabled people — Statistical analysis of the 2011 Labour Force Survey ad hoc module – 2015 edition
- Health (hlth), see:
- Access to labour market for disabled people (Source LFS)(hlth_dsb_lm)
- Health, see:
Methodology / Metadata
- Disability statistics background - Labour force survey - non-response analysis
- Disability statistics background - Labour force survey - proxy analysis
- Prevalence of disability (source LFS) (ESMS metadata file — hlth_dsb_prv_esms)
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 317/2010 of 16 April 2010 adopting the specifications of the 2011 ad hoc module on employment of disabled people for the labour force sample survey provided for by Council Regulation (EC) No 577/98