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This research aimed to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the work status of people with disabilities (PWD) and employers involved in hiring and managing of PWD.
Two cross-sectional surveys.
PWD and employers involved in hiring and managing PWD, primarily in the Midwestern United States.
Convenience sample of 733 PWD and 67 employers recruited through multiple sources.
Main Outcome Measures
Employment consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic as experienced by PWD and employers.
Among survey respondents with disabilities, 25% reported employment changes during the pandemic. Among participants reporting changes, 48% were not working, and 16% lost their jobs due to business reductions. For PWD who maintained employment, 67% reported that their work was moderately or greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. PWD reported decreased pay or financial problems (42%) resulting from furloughs, leaves, or reduced work hours (40%), working remotely more than usual (41%), and experiencing a harder time getting their work done (23%).
In contrast, nearly all employers (97%) reported being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes included switching to virtual operations (69%), temporarily closing a business (26%), furloughing employees (25%), and laying off employees (23%). Primary reasons for business changes included concerns about the spread of COVID-19, adherence to government policies, and difficulty providing services during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected employment of PWD as reported by workers and employers. Findings parallel the experience of the nondisabled workforce, but reveal vulnerabilities that reflect disability consequences and the need for job accommodations. Flexible work hours and opportunities to work remotely benefit PWD in particular. Policy implications reflect the benefits of flexible working hours and locations.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.