2019/04/18 - Career

Disability: fostering job retention

Handicap Vignette 300x200.jpgAs part of its diversity policy, Virbac has been conducting concrete actions for the recruitment, better integration and job retention of workers with disabilities since 2014 in France.

Virbac’s diversity policy has been in effect since 2008, with the signing of a charter in France that favored non-discrimination and diversity, recognized by the Halde (Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l’égalité [French Equal Opportunity and Anti-Discrimination Commission]). This policy is in line with the company’s values, which sees all differences, no matter their origins, as a true source of human enrichment and collective performance. Disability is the third component of this policy, along with gender and intergenerational equality.

A company-wide agreement every three years
Signed by Virbac in 2014 and renewed in 2017, the company-wide agreement on disabilities aims not only to support the recruitment, integration, training and retention of workers with disabilities, but also to raise awareness among all employees on this subject. This agreement also provided an opportunity to identify disability ambassadors and today there are 15. Present on all Virbac sites in France, they have a mission to listen, inform and orientate. Finally, the agreement also deals with the outsourcing of certain activities to specialized, protected facilities, such as Esat (Etablissement et service d'aide par le travail [French Support and Work Assistance Establishment]). 

Handicap Corps du texte web.jpgConcrete local actions
In practice, Virbac arranges individual work stations for workers with disabilities, for example through the provision of hearing aids, ergonomic seats or facilities linked to medical restrictions.
These accommodations can also take a more collective approach to the treatment of health issues linked to certain work stations. Ceiling cleaning systems with extensions, “garbage can dumpers”, lifting tables, crate lift systems to reduce the carrying of heavy loads or accumulation tables to avoid back and forths at the end of the production line are some examples of special facilities for workers with disabilities, which may also benefit other employees for preventive purposes.
Lastly, arrangements can also be integrated into the organization of working time on an ad hoc basis, within the framework of the recommendations of the occupational health doctor. At the same time, nurses are assisting employees who wish to be recognized as disabled workers.

Countering misconceptions
For awareness-raising, two types of trainings with a specialized organization are held each year. For managers, these sessions focus mainly on the integration and daily support of people with disabilities or medical restrictions. For disability ambassadors, the goal of their training is to inform, support, and raise awareness concerning their respective roles. Employees who wish to do so may also participate in recreational and convivial awareness-raising courses in which they are invited to reflect on the place of disability in the company and in society in general. A flyer and a game are also available in the company’s living spaces to test the knowledge of each employee and confront them with concrete situations related to disabilities. Lastly, a dedicated commission, comprised of staff representatives, the employee representative committee and Human Resources management, meets several times a year to set short and long term objectives, evaluate the actions implemented and discuss developments in the company agreement, which should be continued in 2020. 

Between 2013 and 2018, the employment rate for workers with disabilities at Virbac went from 3 to 4,8%. Although this number remains below the legal rate of 6%, it is clearly higher than the direct employment rate of persons with disabilities in French private-sector companies (3.4%in 2017). These results demonstrate the important role disabilities plays in Virbac’s diversity policy!

[1] https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/dp__handicap-et-emploi-050618.pdf
(in French only)