The employment quality of persons with disabilities: findings from a national survey

Publication type
Journal article
Shahidi FV, Jetha A, Kristman VL, Smith PM, Gignac MA
Date published
2023 Apr 01
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Open Access?

PURPOSE: Labour market integration is a widely accepted strategy for promoting the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. But what kinds of jobs do persons with disabilities obtain following their integration into the labour market? In this study, we use a novel survey of workers to describe and compare the employment quality of persons with and without disabilities in Canada. METHODS: We administered an online, cross-sectional survey to a heterogeneous sample of workers in Canada (n=2,794). We collected data on sixteen different employment conditions (e.g., temporary contract, job security, flexible work schedule, job lock, skill match, training opportunities, and union membership). We used latent class cluster analysis to construct a novel typology of employment quality describing four distinct 'types' of employment: standard, portfolio, instrumental, and precarious. We examined associations between disability status, disability type, and employment quality. RESULTS: Persons with disabilities reported consistently lower employment quality than their counterparts without disabilities. Persons with disabilities were nearly twice as likely to report low-quality employment in the form of either instrumental (i.e., secure but trapped) or precarious (i.e., insecure and unrewarding) employment. This gap in employment quality was particularly pronounced for those who reported living with both a physical and mental/cognitive condition. CONCLUSION: There are widespread inequalities in the employment quality of persons with and without disabilities in Canada. Policies and programs aiming to improve the labour market situation of persons with disabilities should emphasize the importance of high-quality employment as a key facet of social and economic inclusion