Yes, disabled employees are protected against discrimination in Venezuela pursuant to the Disable Person’s Law and the Organic Law on Prevention, Working Conditions, and the Work Environment. In fact, there is an express prohibition of discrimination by reason of incapacity.
The purpose of the Disabled Persons’ Law is to establish the rules according to which disabled persons will have the chance to lead normal lives within their surrounding society, their dignity and respect assured, with access to equal opportunities, protection and suitable employment conditions in accordance with their available faculties, social security, education, culture, sports, and economic rights, among others.
Moreover, the Organic Law on Prevention, Working Conditions, and the Work Environment protects workers with disabilities resulting from professional illness or work accidents.
Following are the most important provisions established in the above-mentioned Laws:
1. Definition of disabled persons
All those persons who, for congenital or acquired reasons, have a disability or suffer from a lack of physical, mental, intellectual or sensorial abilities or any combination of these, either temporarily, permanently or intermittently, which, through interaction with different obstacles, entail disadvantages that make difficult or hinder their participation, inclusion and integration into family and social life, as well as the full exercise of their human rights under equal conditions in relation to others.
The following are recognized as disabled persons: the deaf, blind, deaf and blind, persons with visual, hearing, intellectual or motor dysfunctions of any type, with alterations of integration and cognitive abilities, of low stature, autistics, and any other combination of the aforementioned dysfunctions or absences, and who suffer from some disease or disabling disorder scientifically, technically and professionally qualified pursuant to the International Qualification of Functioning, Disability and Health of the World Health Organization.
2. Certification of Disability
The qualification of disability will be carried out by professionals ascribed to the National Public Health System specialized in specific areas, and their diagnoses will be recognized and validated by the National Council for Disabled Persons (Concil), which will issue the corresponding disability certificate.
The disability certificate will be needed by employers in order cover their employment quota of disabled persons.
However, the qualification and certification of labor disability is the responsibility of the National Institute for the Prevention, Health and Security at Work.
3. Employer’s obligations
- Employers, public or private, must hire disabled persons suffering from permanent incapacities to represent up to a 5% of their total payroll. The employer’s total payroll must be calculated taking into account executives, high-payroll employees, employees and workers.
- People with intellectual incapacities must be integrated into the work force according to their intellectual and social abilities, performing tasks that may be performed by them under supervision.
- Disabled persons must be able to carry out the jobs assigned to them, with appropriate access to the facilities where they have to perform their services, and without exceeding their capacities for performing it.
- Disabled persons shall not be obliged to perform activities that involve risks.
- Employers have to inform the Council, the National Employment Institute and the National Statistics Institute regarding the number of disabled persons employed, their identity data and the type of disability and activity each one of them performs, every six months.
- Those designing, building or remodeling buildings must comply with all regulations related to accessibility and ease of transit of disabled persons.
- Public areas of residential complexes, land-based terminals, ports, airports, educational, sports, cultural and health facilities, shopping centers, businesses and commercial offices, recreation, tourist and urban areas, must have pathways that permit access to disabled persons.
- Parking lots must have spaces reserved for vehicles of disabled persons alongside the entrance of the building.
- Public and private entities must guarantee access and preferential attention to disabled persons, and the access of disabled persons must not be denied when accompanied by a guide dog.
- If the disability is a consequence of a professional illness or a work accident, employers are obligated to:
- Reinstate the worker who has recovered her/his capability to work in the position she/he occupied before the illness or accident, once the temporary disability has ended.
- In case the disability is permanent for the habitual job, the employer must relocate the disable worker in a position compatible with her/his residual capabilities.
- The employer must inform the National Institute for the Prevention, Health and Security at Work regarding such relocation.
- Workers will be protected with bar against dismissal for one year as of her/his reinstatement or relocation to the job.