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Although Pakistan enacted the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance in 1981, many managers are still uncertain about how best to handle employees with special needs.

Here are some guidelines:

  •  Have a work plan. Document the goals that should be achieved by the employee and his/her key responsibilities. Prepare a proper job description and a plan regarding how responsibilities will gradually be transferred to the employee.
  •  Know the core strengths. Be clear on what skills the person is bringing to the table. If administrative tasks are part of the employee’s job description, make sure that there are enough administrative tasks for the person to do. Repetition is boring for anyone, so ensure you have a job enrichment plan in place.
  •  Expect ethical behaviour. The idea is to give equal not preferential treatment. Most people resort to treating people with special needs like children and make allowances for slack behaviour in order to avoid confrontation. As with all other employees, you need to be objective even if you feel guilty and sympathetic.
  •  Frequent feedback sessions. Whether it is regarding job performance, physical mobility or accessibility limitation issues, regular one-on-one sessions with the employee will encourage trust and open communication.
  •  Make tough decisions. If there are complaints regarding (for example) unprofessional conduct, absenteeism or tardiness, consult your HR department and obtain 360-degree feedback on the employee to ensure that you are being fair and have tried all options available to you before you take action against the employee.

Nobody wants to discriminate against an employee with disabilities, but as a good manager it is important to stay focused on the core premise of a healthy work environment – equal treatment for all employees.

– Sadya Siddiqui
The writer is a branding consultant and can be contacted via LinkedIn.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 11, 2012.