Employment of disabled people in Czech Republic



Ing. Karel Rychtáø

Director of the Department of Union of Czech and Moravian Productive Cooperatives (SCMVD), Vice-chair of Association of Employers of disabled persons in CR (AZZP)



The Union of Czech and Moravian Productive Cooperatives is seated in Prague. The Union is a entrepreneurial special-interested association by tradition. It is made up by more than 360 cooperatives of which 50 cooperatives is of social type, where more than 50% of the staff are disabled people.


High attention and support is given to social-economy sector in CR as the result of their sight.


SCMVD works in close co-operation with Association of Employers of disabled persons in CR, which consists of 140 companies of that kind of which 85 the most important firms. These organizations together share in the co-operation with executive, legislators and other associations, e.g. Czech National Disability Council.

Union takes part in many international activities in the frame of CECOP Brussels, co-operates with Austrian company BBRZ Linz in the frame of ARGE Ost-West and also with other foreign companies.


The Union representative is a regular member of Governmental Committee for Disabled Persons in CR.


Sheltered workshops and employment of disabled people


The history and development of vocational use methods of disabled people in CR and advanced 'Western' countries are slightly different.


The definition 'sheltered workshop', which is the term often used for workplaces of handicapped people, is different in various national legislative systems and supportive systems as well:

·        socially adjusted workplace for preparation handicapped people for work;

·        workshops adjusted and provided by productive activity suitable also for disabled people;

·        workshops, where the share of disabled people are higher than certain share (50 - 80% and specific and individual needs of clients/employees are respected;

·        sheltered workshops can be training social-welfare institution, a part of non-entrepreneurial subject, part of entrepreneurial subject or individual subject on the market;

·        sheltered workshop can have employees, clients without vocational relation or combining both of the ways;

·        the highest level can be our 'employers of disabled people', which integrates companies (Germany), social cooperatives (Italy, France) with the high share of own financing itself (10 - 30%)


Development in the world and in the Czech Republic


A group of relatively big entrepreneurial companies with state support was established decades ago in the Czech Republic. This companies were internally transformed in the last decade and they were accompanied by a group of new (usually smaller) companies. This development was different abroad.


Since World War II the crux of employment in smaller, really sheltered and highly subsidised workplaces - mostly of non-entrepreneurial kind. The initiative towards social economy arose during 80th and 90th of 20. century, and in that case it endeavoured to get more independence and equality for these companies. These were e. g. 'atelier protégé' in France, TEAMWORK  in Austria and the above-mentioned social cooperatives in Italy.


Many quite big companies, cooperatives and so-called 'economy institution of union of Invalids' META were established subsequently (under the security of non-market economy) in the Czech Republic after 1950. These companies gradually established the basic conditions (technical, business, personal) for enterprise.


After 1989, most of these companies has survived in reduced form and subsequently develops, in spite of the level of the state support is lower year by year (mainly in the last 5 years). Their present level of grants and allowances on taxes is not higher than 15% of their capital turnover.

Consequently some new companies and cooperatives have been established, which together means 140 companies with almost 11 000 employees and members.


Some companies carry on sheltered workshops in agreement with Labour Offices, mainly these with higher level of adaptability and higher number of people with severe disability (approximately 1700 persons).


We can say that we have managed the transformation to condition of market economy in recent years, most of the companies have its own position on market.

Resources and nearest tasks


In the near future we are expecting a next part - transformation of the support system of these employers and the system of motivating employers to employ disabled people.


To sum up, we can say:

·        we are not friendly with 'copying' system realized in other places, different conditions and history;

·        we do not agree with simplifying and excepting of 'fast and easy' solutions;

·        we in principle refuse the way of 'destroying' ways, which are successful, and to exaggerate a little, the foreign countries envy us a bit.


We do not infirm our common and long-term goal: full integration of disabled people to free job market as a long-term goal of every rational society. In the same time we also offer and advocate an alternative, which exists in various modifications all over the world.


But it does not work so effectively in many countries as in the Czech Republic.


We consider these needs as most actual (as also our tasks):

·        effective information campaigns - 'know-how' for employer, employability support (more than direct support of employment);

·        to remove stigmas and prejudices, thoroughly individualization;

·        the change of pension and social system towards motivation to work (instead of present motivation to pension and benefits);

·        empowering of the role of non-state (external) services of employability, mainly on regional level.


All these factors in complex bounding, regardless of departmental pertinence' of individual parts.

The starting step should be the approval of (Complex) Rehabilitation Act, which is intensively prepared this year.