New reporting obligations on disabled workers

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The ASX Corporate Governance Council has told workplace relations Minister Bill Shorten (pictured) it would be “inappropriate” for the council to implement mandatory reporting obligations on disability employment for listed companies.

Despite the announcement, Shorten has vowed to press ahead with plans to enforce reporting obligations of how many disabled workers companies employ from next year, alongside the support of the Federal Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes and the Australian Human Resources Institute.

In a letter obtained by The Australian Financial Review last week, ASX council chairman Alan Cameron advised Minister Shorten the council “does not believe that it would be appropriate, nor within its mandate… to recommend that listed entities report statistics on the employment of people with disability”.

At this stage the council can only issue recommendations not directives to listed companies. However, it can also require companies that fail to comply to explain why they have not done so.

Shorten told the AFR he would continue the consultation process with the ASX Corporate Governance Council, but if it failed to result in changes to the reporting obligations, he would seek legislation requiring employers to report on the numbers of staff with disabilities next year.

Shorten said the reason he is behind this cause is because disabled people continue to face unconscious bias in the labour market. “The ASX Corporate Governance Council clearly wants to hasten slowly. I don’t think they are convinced it’s an issue,” Shorten said. “If people start reporting on it [disabled employment numbers], they will start to think about it,” he added.

Since 2010, the ASX council has recommended gender diversity reporting obligations for listed companies, in order to help increase the number of female leaders.

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