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Disabled Employment New Zealand

Many highly capable New Zealanders could be part of the workforce if barriers to their employment were removed. 74% of disabled people want to work. This website will help remove barriers.

Information to help break down barriers to employment for employers and disabled people wanting to enter the workforce. Disabled people are less likely to be employed than the general population or other minorities. Employment for disabled people is often limited by opportunity and employers attitudes rather than disability.


Statistics on disabled employment


24% of people in New Zealand have some form of disability.


74% of disabled people want to work, lets make this happen


Unemployment rate for disabled people in June 2017 was 11.4 percent, and 4.5 percent for non-disabled people

Disabled people twice as likely to be underutilised

Looking at the underutilisation rate in combination with the underlying unemployment and underemployment rates provides a more comprehensive view of New Zealand’s labour market. The underemployment rate shows the proportion of part-time workers who are willing and available to work more hours than they usually do.

Disabled people Non-disabled people
Underutilisation rate 23.5% 11.4%
Unemployment rate 11.4% 4.5%
Underemployment rate(1) 5.5% 3.9%
1. The difference between the underemployment rates for disabled and non-disabled people was not statistically significant.


There were com-positional differences between underutilisation for disabled and non-disabled people. Non-disabled people who are underutilised were more likely to be underemployed, while underutilised disabled people were more likely to be unemployed

Unemployment rate higher among disabled people

The largest proportion of underutilised disabled people come from those who were unemployed.

The unemployment rate for disabled people in the June 2017 quarter was 11.4 percent, compared with 4.5 percent for non-disabled people. This was mainly due to a 39.7 percent unemployment rate for disabled people aged 15–24 years.

Disabled people tended to remain unemployed for longer than non-disabled people. The average duration of unemployment was almost 18 months for disabled people, while it was less than 10 months for non-disabled people.

The most common reason provided by disabled people who left their job in the last five years was their own sickness, illness, and/or injury (46.8 percent).

Disability or poor health prevents people from seeking work

‘Available potential job-seekers’ are people who are not actively seeking work but would like a paid job and were available in the week before being surveyed. This group includes people who stopped looking for work because they have become discouraged.

For disabled people not in the labour force, the most common reason given for not seeking work was their own sickness, illness, injury, or disability (66.2 percent). For non-disabled people, the most common reason for not seeking work was that they were studying or training (40.7 percent).