Autism and inclusive employment
Question for oral answer O-000017/2021
to the Commission
Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Pierfrancesco Majorino, Jordi Cañas, Stefania Zambelli, Katrin Langensiepen, José Gusmão
on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Autism is a complex lifelong disability experienced differently by each affected person. An estimated five million people in Europe are on the autism spectrum. Autistic people, irrespective of their support needs, face a high level of discrimination in all aspects of life, including education and vocational training, resulting in poor employment outcomes. Unemployment disproportionately affects autistic people, including those with an above-average level of education. Their employment rate is less than 10 %, far below the rates of 47 % for persons with disabilities and 72 % for persons without disabilities. They are often underemployed, work in precarious and/or short term jobs with very low pay, often in institutions and sheltered settings, and are at high risk of poverty and social exclusion. The pandemic has left them with fewer education and employment opportunities as a result of dropping out, being laid off and the suspension of support services and evidence-based interventions. With regard to their right to fully participate in society on an equal basis with others, and with reference to the new Disability Strategy, the Employment Equality Directive, the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs would like to ask the Commission the following questions:
1. What will the Commission do to improve the prospects for personal development and the employment outcomes of autistic people, specifically with regard to protection under legal frameworks covering social security, working conditions, minimum wages and non-discrimination in institutions; individualised and specialised support in education and training, and in the transition between these and employment; individualised approaches to identify needs and improve employability (including with modified recruitment procedures and evidence-based employer training courses), to ensure quality and inclusive employment with equal pay, as for persons without disabilities, as well as reasonable accommodation; the use of assistive technology; and use of EU funds in this context?
2. How concretely will the Commission improve and ensure the collection and monitoring of quality disaggregated data of the employment situation of autistic people, including those with co-occurring conditions, other disabilities and in institutions and sheltered settings?
3. What concrete measures does the Commission propose in order to take into account the quality of life, diversity of the situation and needs of persons on the autism spectrum, and the effects of the pandemic and of the intersectional discrimination they face in the areas of, among others, education, housing, employment, social protection and inclusion, and in order to ensure that the Member States address their specific needs when implementing the EU Disability Strategy?
-  Prevalence estimates of 1 in 100 as autistic, cf. Elsabbagh, M. et al, ‘Global Prevalence of Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders’, Autism Research, Vol. 5, No 3, 2012; Fombonne, E. et al, ‘Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in a Total Population Sample’, The American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 168, No 9, 2011; Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, ‘Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008’, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Surveillance Summaries, Vol. 61, No 3, 2012; Mattila et al 2011; Saemundsen, E. et al, ‘Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in an Icelandic birth cohort’, BMJ Open, 2013; Baird, G. et al, ‘IQ in children with autism spectrum disorders: data from the Special needs and Autism Project (SNAP)’, Psychological Medicine, Vol. 41, No 3, 2011.
-  Riedel, A. et al, ‘Well Educated Unemployed – On Education, Employment and Comorbidities in Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders in Germany’, Psychiatrische Praxis, Vol. 43, No 1, 2016.
-  Autism-Europe’s presentation to the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on 5 November 2019, retrieved here: https://www.autismeurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/presentation_employment_autism_final2.pptx.pdf
-  Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 (COM(2021)0101.
-  Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.