Key Concepts

Quota schemes are probably the best known and the most familiar affirmative action measures aimed at promoting the integration of people with disabilities in the labour market. Quotas are sometimes introduced by law and sometimes by Government decision or regulation.

Under quota schemes, employers employing a specific minimum number of persons are obliged to ensure that a certain percentage (quota) of their workforce is made up of people with disabilities. Such schemes first emerged in Europe in the aftermath of the First World War, and initially war veterans who were disabled as a result of military action were the only beneficiaries. These schemes typically exempted small employers. In the post Second World War period, quota schemes were extended to cover civilians with disabilities, and were adopted in many countries throughout the world. The exemption for small employers was, however, often maintained. More recently, some quota schemes have been expanded expressly to include people with intellectual disabilities (such as the quota scheme in Japan) and people with mental health problems (such as in Germany).