Bill seeks to give teeth to 2% disability hiring requirement for GovGuam
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Amanda L. Shelton today introduced a bill seeking to increase access to employment for individuals with disabilities.
“We must break down unnecessary barriers for qualified individuals to access opportunity and employment,” Shelton said in introducing Bill 2019-36 in support of National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month celebrated every year throughout the month of October.
Citing the 2019 BehavioralRisk Factor Surveillance System report, the bill noted that 29,236 adults in Guam have a disability, equal to 31 percent of adults on the island.
Bill 219-36 amends the current law requiring 2 percent of the government of Guam's workforce be individuals with disabilities by transferring the responsibility of certifying a disability of an individual to a qualified, licensed medical professional set by Guam law and providing a mechanism to ensure compliance with the law.
Under the current law, such responsibility is vested in the counselors at Vocational Rehabilitation, a line agency of the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities.
“It is my hope that GovGuam will be the model of inclusivity and diversity for our entire island workforce. Bill 219 will allow individuals with disabilities to apply and be considered for jobs within GovGuam with greater ease,” Shelton said.
The current law requires an applicant to be registered with DVR and be certified by a counselor at DVR. The bill would allow them to certify with their trusted doctor without being a consumer of DISID, and allow the department to focus its limited resources on other services.
The certification of disability will address the applicant and knowledge of the jobsite, job description, workplace disability safety, and knowledge, abilities and skills required to perform the job.
The medical professional would also be responsible for making recommendations to modifications to the job or job site, and other accommodations that can be helpful to ensure successful placement and support of an individual with disabilities in the workplace.
Bill 219-36 comes as a result of Shelton’s conversations with DISID and concerns they shared with the legislature during an oversight hearing at the beginning of October.
DISID currently has no mechanism to ensure compliance with the current law requiring 2 percent of GovGuam’s workforce be individuals with disabilities. Bill 219 addresses this concern of DISID by requiring GovGuam agencies to submit an annual report to the Department of Administration.
The report shall be made in consultation with DISID and shall also include, but not be limited to:
the number of individuals with severe disabilities employed by the agency;
the total number of employees employed by the agency;
the number of individuals with severe disability hired by the agency within the year;
the types of jobs these individuals perform; and,
the length of time these individuals were employed in each agency.
“We are giving more individuals the opportunity to use and develop skills, and providing the resources needed to assert independence. By building a workforce that is representative and inclusive, we can better serve everyone in our community,” Shelton said.
Bill 219-36 is cosponsored by Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, Sens. Telena Cruz Nelson, Mary Camacho Torres, Telo T. Taitague, Frank F. Blas, Jr., Joanne M. Brown, and V. Anthony Ada.