Employment of Persons with Disabilities

disabled person means “an individual whose prospects of securing; retaining and advancing in suitable employment are substantially reduced as a result of a duly recognized physical or mental impairment”.

What are the laws relating to employment of disabled persons in Pakistan?

Government of Pakistan has enacted a law in order to provide for employment, rehabilitation and welfare of disabled persons in the country. The "Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance" was enacted in 1981 as a presidential ordinance. This law was promulgated during the "International Year for Disabled Persons" in 1981 to provide support to the disabled persons in finding employment in government as well as commercial and industrial establishments. After devolution of the subject of labour in 2011, the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have adopted the 1981 Ordinance. Sindh has enacted its own law, i.e., The Sindh Differently Able Persons (employment, rehabilitation and welfare) Act, 2014. 

Government of Pakistan has also ratified 'ILO Convention on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons'. Similarly in the last year, it has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

According to World Bank and WHO estimates, at least 10% of country's total population is disabled/persons with disabilities (PWDs). Of these 18 million PWDs, over 5 million live in the Urban areas while the other 13 million reside in rural areas. It is however interesting to note that only 136,928 PWDs have been registered with National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) and issued national identity cards. 

What is the jurisdiction of this law?

The "Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 (DPO-1981)" is applicable to any establishment, whether government, industrial or commercial, in which the number of employees at any time during the year are at least one hundred (or to simplify it; which employs at least 100 workers for the whole year). The table below provides further details of organizations, which are considered as establishments, hence following under the purview of DPO-1981.

Government Establishments Commercial Establishments Industrial Establishments
Federal/provincial government managed organizations Advertising/commission/forwarding Agency, clerical department of a factory, joint stock company, Factory
Autonomous/semi-autonomous bodies insurance company, banking company, bank, broker office, stock exchange, Railways
University, college, professional school Club, hotel, restaurant, Establishment of a contractor
Cinema, theater, Establishment in connection with construction industry
Other organizations as declared and notified by the government

How is disability defined in the law?

In accordance with the law, a disabled person is the one " who on account of injury, disease or congenital deformity, is handicapped for undertaking any gainful or professional employment in order to earn his livelihood, and it includes a person who is

  • Deaf
  • Blind
  • Physically handicapped or
  • Mentally retarded

In the context of employment, a more clear definition of disability is provided in the ILO Convention, ratified by Pakistan in 1994. To this convention, disabled person means "an individual whose prospects of securing; retaining and advancing in suitable employment are substantially reduced as a result of a duly recognized physical or mental impairment".

What are employment related provisions of the law?

According to Section 10 of the above Ordinance, one percent quota was reserved for disabled persons (special persons) in all public and private sector establishments. This quota was later enhanced to 2% in 1998 through an administrative order, issued by Establishment Division. This is however not a statutory amendment. The employers provide the information as to whether an establishment is employing required 2% disabled persons, to the Provincial Departments through Annual Manpower Survey forms. The law actually does not place limit on the number of disabled persons in an establishment rather it provides that at least two percent of employees should be Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) which means that an employer may employ more than 2% of its total workers from among the disabled ones but never less than that limit. The current applicable quota for disabled persons in the public and private sector for all provinces is 2% except in Punjab where the quota was raised to 3% in 2015. 

The law requires that terms and conditions of employment of disabled persons can't be less favorable than those of other persons employed in an establishment. Therefore a disabled person can't be hired on lower wages and benefits.

The law also provides that in calculating the percentage of the posts in an establishment for the purpose of employment of disabled persons, the fraction of 0.5 and above will count as a whole number. Consider this example:

Total number of employees in an establishment:  130
Quota reserved under the law: at least 2% of total employees
In the normal case, the third disabled person would be employed only when total number of employees is 150. However, in view of above provision, third disabled person can be hired even when number of total employees is 130.


What if an Employer is not employing the required percentage of disabled persons?

The law requires that an establishment, which does not employ a disabled person, has to pay for the Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Fund each month the sum of money it would have paid as salary or wages to a disabled person had he had been employed.

An establishment, which opts out of the employment of disabled persons, will deposit each month to the above fund at least 14,000 rupees, if it employs a total of 100 workers.

The fund thus collected is utilized for establishment of training centers for disabled persons, financial assistance to disabled persons who are unable to undertake any employment, disbursement of stipends or scholarships to disabled persons receiving training, welfare of disabled persons and providing artificial limbs, surgical therapy and medical treatment to disabled persons.

What is the procedure for getting employment under the Disabled Persons Ordinance?

If you are a person with disability (disabled person), you first have to get registered as "disabled person". The disabled persons are registered in the employment exchanges or the office of District Labor Officer (the employment exchanges exist only in the Sindh Province). However, a person is declared disabled only when he/she is declared disabled by the medical assessment board and is issued a disability certificate. A medical officer from District Headquarters Hospital usually heads this assessment board. Once the competent board decides about the disability of a person and issues the requisite certificate, then the said person can now get job on the disabled persons quota. The assessment board also indicates, in its report to the provincial government, the nature of work in which a specific disabled person can be employed or training requirement in a vocation or trade.

Are there any special requirements to get benefits provided by the Government?

In order to avail these benefits, you must first obtain the following documents.

  • Employment exchange card (You can get it after getting yourself registered with Employment Exchange Office, available in Sindh only) or
  • Disability certificate (provided by district assessment board in all provinces)
  • Special Computerized National Identity Card for disabled (also available in all provinces)

Are there any special provisions/benefits for disabled persons to work in the public sector?

In accordance with above-mentioned provision of law, every establishment has to hire at least 2% of total employees from the disabled persons. There is also age relaxation of 10 years for initial appointment to posts in BPS 1-15, however for civil posts only. As for the competitive exams and central superior service of the country, the table below shows the groups open for disabled persons.

Acceptable Type of Disability Group
Physical, visual and hearing Commerce & Trade Group
Pakistan Audit and Accounts Group
Information Group
Postal Services Group
All types of disabilities Information Department
Postal Services Department




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