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E. China Province Strengthens Employment of Disabled
Work units in Zhejiang Province, east China, are being forced to employ quotas of disabled people under a new regulation which came into effect Tuesday.

Under the regulation, the first of its kind in Zhejiang, all work units in the province should employ a certain ratio of disabled workers and the employment information should be publicized through a credit system.

"It is the first time in China a credit supervision system is carried out for employing disabled people," said Zheng Zhigeng, director of the legislative affairs office of the Zhejiang provincial government.

The government promises in the regulation to support employment of skilled disabled people of working age.

Under the new regulation, institutions and enterprises belonging to Zhejiang Province, and offices of the central government and other provinces in Zhejiang are all required to employ disabled people at the ratio of 1.5 percent to their total employees.

Zhejiang Province has about 2 million disabled, 700,000 of whom are registered and have labor skills. The employment ratio of the disabled in Zhejiang has surpassed 80 percent since the province started to require quotas in 1995. However, no related regulation had ever been issued to enforce the employment, and 145,000 disabled in Zhejiang are still jobless, while 105,000 rural disabled live below the poverty line.

A lack of legal support makes it difficult for the disabled to get jobs in the private sector which is the main channel of employment in the province.

To protect the rights of disabled employees, the regulation requires the work unit to sign labor contracts with its disabled employees and to buy social insurance for them. The regulation also demands pay for the disabled equal to that of other employees.

If a work unit fails to employ disabled people at the required ratio, it will have to pay a sum of money to guarantee the livelihoods of disabled people. The local People's Courts have the right to force the money collection.

(People’s Daily July 3, 2003)

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