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Spain - Disability

There are several laws in place in Spain that are designed to support and protect those with disabilities. These include the 1982 Social Integration for Disabled People Act, the 2003 Non Discrimination Act and the 2007 Equal Opportunities Act. Employers who hire those with disabilities have access to a range of grants and other funding. These grants are for adapting the work place and there are also reductions available in social security contributions for those who meet the criteria, although the amounts differ depending upon the level of disability of the worker. There are also minimum length contracts as part of the qualifying criteria.

Disabled workers are able to benefit from different tax reductions and those who go back to work after spending time on state benefits are able to keep part of the benefits if they are considered to be on a low income. All employers are required to comply with non discriminatory laws when they recruit workers. Employers in both the private and public sectors are obliged to employ disabled people, making up at least 2% of their workforce. In the event that they cannot meet this target they are able to take into consideration subcontracted work, temporary workers and donations made to organisations which support disabled people.

There are a series of Special Employment Centres in Spain. There are almost 700,000 people working in these centres and get the opportunity to work for mainstream companies as subcontractors. This system allows disabled people to spend more time in non-sheltered employment and encourage them to make the move on a more permanent basis. The centres get bonuses on their social security contributions and many of those that work there find positions in the public sector.

Support is also available for disabled workers who want to become self employed. There are a number of organisations which help workers to create their own businesses. ONCE is the Spanish organisation for the blind and other disabled persons and they offer advice in areas such as management and accounting. Training is also available for those who have been out of work for a long time and who want to find work or establish their own business. There are government incentives for those with mobility problems who wish to establish their own business and organisations such as ONCE are able to offer advice on this too.

Facilities for the disabled will vary from region to region. In the capital city of Madrid there are still improvements to be made to the facilities, although they are better than in most of the smaller towns. The city’s underground system has many stops which are suitable for those with mobility problems, although the majority of these are not in the busiest areas. There are maps available which show the stations which have disabled access and facilities. Taxis are considered to be one of the best options in Madrid for the disabled to get around. There is a specialist company that helps the disabled and which operates around the clock. The cars have wheelchair ramps and other aids to make travelling easier. Buses do have disabled access but are often busy and you may need to wait for a bus that does not have as many people on it. Suburban overland trains in the region have a good reputation for helping disabled passengers.

When moving around the streets of Madrid there are ramps at most crossings, making it easier to navigate a wheelchair around. Most buildings have disabled access, although facilities such as toilets for the disabled are not as widespread. It is often recommended to use fast food restaurants as they tend to have better disabled facilities.

Areas which are popular with tourists have been upgrading facilities to make them more accessible for the disabled and there are usually many outlets where equipment such as wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be hired. In rural areas it may be that you find there are far fewer facilities and that some buildings have not yet been altered to allow for disabled access.

Useful Resources

Eurotaxi (disabled taxi specialist)
Tel: + 34 91 547 8500

Ortopedia Plaza SL (wheelchair rental company)
Tel: + 34 91 365 3836

ONCE (Disabled support organisation)
Tel: + 34 91 506 8888
Email: dae@fundaciononce.es

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