French cleaning sector offers jobs to disabled workers

11th of March 2014
French cleaning sector offers jobs to disabled workers

The French cleaning sector has been making efforts to employ disabled workers, says Christian Bouzols.

For a number of years, the French cleaning sector has been creating the means for companies to employ more disabled workers. The result is impressive. The number of disabled workers employed by cleaning companies has more than doubled during the past five years. Before then the disability employment rate in the sector was 1.42 per cent. Now it is over three per cent.

Some companies have been quite exemplary in this area and have even exceeded the rate stipulated by French legislation. ECJ spoke to Sefika Saritas at Groupe Labrenne, a large cleaning company with 2,100 employees. The company has been involved in integrating disabled people into its workforce since 2008.

As explained by Saritas: “In recruiting people, we’ve always considered that openness made sense. What we’re looking for in the first place are skills, and these are not founded on any sort of discrimination. The company for which I work considers the integration of workers to be most important and does everything it can to keep its disabled employees. We deploy them to sites which they can handle, taking their disability into account. If difficulties crop up we endeavour to find solutions.”

Companies employing more than 20 workers (full time or equivalent) are obliged to employ disabled workers at a level of six per hundred. In order to abide by that law, companies have various options available. The first is to pay a contribution to the AGEFIPH (a civil society organisation dedicated to helping disabled people find work) if the company can’t reach the target.

The second is to actually employ disabled workers. The third is to sub-contract up to three per cent of their workload to specialised entities. The fourth is to hire trainees to a maximum of two per cent of their workforce.

In some parts of Groupe Labrenne nine per cent of employees are disabled. Saritas explains: “We try to keep every disabled worker by examining each case and suggesting alternative roles where necessary.

“In managing our business, we’re willing to make our pro-disability policies known to our customers, who in fact appreciate them greatly. At our company offices, a disabled person sits at the reception to welcome customers. In our dealings with public authorities, we’ve included integration clauses in our contracts. We therefore do everything possible to ensure and give value to the employment of disabled people”.

Since 2009 the cleaning sector has been providing a number of tools to help companies improve their recruitment of disabled workers. These tools include:

• A support and assistance system designed to help companies to institute policies for the employment of disabled workers
• Disability workshops for companies of all sizes
• A club for large companies, called the Handiclub Propreté, which is a meeting place for the exchange of ideas.

So French cleaning companies are very much involved in improving the prospects of disabled cleaners. Saritas concluded: “I have followed the training organised by the cleaning sector and I belong to Handiclub. This has been most useful in developing our human resources programme and we’re rather proud of our company and its rich diversity.”


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