Eighteen years ago, a law that requires companies to hire people with special needs was enacted. The Ministry of Labor said that it would start implementing Law 220, according to a source.
The law states that small companies, typically the ones with 30-6 employees, must hire at least one qualified person with special needs. Larger companies "must have at least three percent of their workforce with special needs."
The public sector shall appoint at least 3% of the global number of positions in the different categories to disabled people.
A penalty is also set in the article for companies that do not employ people with special needs. They will be fined an amount of double the minimum wage for every unemployed disabled person. The penalties must be paid to the Ministry of Labor.
The law will be implemented this year. Companies have until October 19 to comply with the law.
The National Employment Office is cooperating with the Ministry of Social Affairs to prepare a list of people with special needs, their qualifications, skills, and ability to work.
Unfortunately, the Lebanese society is still unaware of the valuable contribution that people with disabilities can make in the workforce. Also, schools in Lebanon are not making an effort to become more friendly to students with special needs.
It is difficult for people with disabilities to find a job or the right school. Doing basic tasks such as finishing paperwork in also a challenge. In fact, Lebanon is among 18 United Nations members that have yet to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Small steps are being taken in Lebanon to integrate people with disabilities into society. A few months ago, Tripoli's municipal council approved to build a playground for children with special needs.
The park will be equipped with games that all children can enjoy, whether they are disabled or not. The playground will provide a safe space where kids can socialize. The accessible playground equipment will offer benefits for all children to make sure no one is left out.
Let's hope the implementation of this law will help people with special needs in Lebanon reach their full potential.