What employers need to know about how common disability is

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2024 | Employment Law -- Employer |

More employers need a keen awareness of the prevalence of disability among their workforce.

A comprehensive understanding of the commonality of disability is not just an ethical imperative. It is also a strategic necessity to sidestep potential disputes and compliance issues.

Widespread underestimation

Contrary to prevailing perceptions, disability is more common than many people acknowledge. The potential implications for employers are huge.

Companies generally report that 4 to 7% of their employees have disabilities. This offers a stark contrast to the 25 percent of employees who self-identify as having a disability or a medical condition limiting a major life activity. The tendency to underestimate the prevalence of disability is a root cause of underinvestment in important disability support systems.

Invisible challenges

Many disabilities, as many as 80 percent, are not immediately obvious. They can include autoimmune disorders, migraines, anxiety and learning differences. The invisibility of these challenges contributes to the oversight of workers with disabilities and their unique needs.

Implications for workplace dynamics

Employers must be aware of three important realities. First, there is under-disclosure of disabilities due to fears of stigma or job insecurity. This affects the well-being of employees with disabilities. It limits the organization’s ability to fully engage a substantial portion of its workforce.

Second, inaccurate data often leads to missed opportunities for improvement. Third, people with disabilities are more likely to experience workplace discrimination. They also feel less included.


Acknowledging the prevalence of disability is not just about statistical accuracy. It is a necessary step toward fostering an inclusive and compliant workplace.

Employers can take steps such as developing employee-centric policies and mentorship programs. They should also provide reasonable accommodations such as flexible schedules and modifications in physical workspaces.

Employers need to recognize how common disabilities are. This way, they can create a workplace that embraces diversity and avoids disputes. An experienced employment lawyer can help with compliance, avoid costly disputes and efficiently resolve any issues that arise.