Chapter 9 Disability in EU labour law beyond non-discrimination
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The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of European Union (EU) labour law and policy initiatives that have, outside the anti-discrimination realm, addressed disability rights and concerns on the labour market. Policy debate at the European level related to active labour market measures has been growing, since the EU is facing substantial challenges due to population ageing, the result of low fertility rates and increasing life expectancy. Considering that health problems and disabilities are important reasons for early exits from the labour force, disability protection has been at the centre of the debate in the EU as well as in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development area. In this light, the EU has been promoting the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the human rights approach to disability issues. Different tracks in the EU approach would appear to have emerged. While workplace health and safety is a strategy of the EU’s hard law agenda, policy objectives on disability are often further enhanced through softer strategies. To a large extent, EU Employment Strategies (adopted on the ground of Article 145 TFEU) have been relied upon, with a strong focus on the enhancement of work opportunities for workers with disabilities and the development of active measures. Within the harder labour law area, disability issues are enhanced through both legal tools as well as policy advice and guidance. The ‘well-adapted workplace’ strategy, promoted through the European Pillar of Social Rights may shed new light on the (combined) courses taken in both hard law and soft law approaches.

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