New Missouri provision looks to help those with disabilities get jobs

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 4:17 AM CDT
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HANNIBAL (WGEM) - A new measure in Missouri looks could help those with disabilities get hired and help businesses fill open positions.

The Missouri Employment First Act looks to help people with disabilities overcome employment barriers. It requires Missouri state agencies to help provide those with disabilities information and support, as well as have the opportunity for training and education about work, job opportunities, and other employment related items.

Officials with 2 Rivers Industries Inc. said the measure is a step in the right direction.

Assistant Director Amber Borrowman said with its a good opportunity for businesses to hire employees and is a good chance for those with disabilities to enter the workforce.

“Interacting with customers, a lot of them do that, and then just your general like housekeeping skills, you know to keep their space clean and to help others and things like that,” Borrowman said.

She said while those with more severe disabilities might need more supervision and training, they make for dedicated employees.

Executive Director Justin Barnhart said the education and promotion of those with disabilities will encourage them to apply for jobs, with state agencies and even local businesses. He said the new bill could lead to some more job opportunities but he also has concerns.

One focuses on people with disabilities losing their benefits or assistance because of their employment.

“I’ve never understood why our government, whether be state or federal, makes all these rules, to say if you make this much you are not allowed to do this. What does that even mean? Where did that come from?” Barnhart said.

He said there needs to be some protections to ensure disabled workers don’t lose their benefits, whether that’s setting a minimum pay level which would allow them to make money and retain their benefits or protecting them from losing them.

Barnhart also said he’s concerned for those with more severe mental disabilities, they might still face challenges when seeking employment outside of sheltered workshops as they might need more supervision for liability purposes.

He said companies should do their research on labor laws when hiring employees with disabilities, as depending on the disability, there’s different actions they might have to take in the hiring process.

SB106 and SB45 go into effect August 28.

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