Significant Moments in Disability History Contribute to Employment of People with Disabilities

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has partnered with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and the Texas Workforce Solutions board partners to launch the Texas HireAbility campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. The campaign was launched in October in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). As we end our celebration of NDEAM, we reflect on the significant moments in our history that are important to these efforts.

Many events in national and Texas state history have positively contributed to equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Disability History Timeline (1).jpg

These moments in history are significant for establishing vocational rehabilitation programs, services and policies to help people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, retain and advance in high-quality employment in Texas and across the United States.

Although NDEAM officially ended yesterday, our efforts to raise awareness and assist individuals with disabilities as they pursue their career goals will continue through our ongoing Texas HireAbility Campaign. For more information about vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities and to learn more about the Texas HireAbility campaign, visit TXHireAbility.texasworkforce.org.

Follow us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter for more updates about #TXHireAbility.

Five Key Facts About Hiring People with Disabilities

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has partnered with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and Texas Workforce Solutions to launch the Texas HireAbility campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. The campaign was launched in October in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

According to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data, approximately 82,000 Texans with disabilities of working age (18-64) are actively seeking employment. Below are several key advantages for businesses looking to recruit, hire and retain these qualified Texans.

  • Studies show employees with disabilities are rated by supervisors as being equally or more productive than coworkers and as achieving equal or better overall job performance.
  • 33% of hiring managers and executives reported that employees with disabilities stay in their jobs longer. Businesses which hire employees with disabilities report increased employee retention and less absenteeism.
  • 59% of workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities cost nothing, while most others have a onetime cost of $500 or less.
  • Hiring people with disabilities does not increase a company’s workers’ compensation liability. Workers’ compensation rates are based solely on the business’ accident record and operational hazards.  Employing  workers with disabilities does not impact the rates.
  • The labor laws businesses must follow when firing underperforming employees are the same for employees with or without disabilities. These employees can be terminated when appropriate documentation is maintained to support the decision.

For more information about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, and to learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, visit TXHireAbility.texasworkforce.org.

To learn how creating a culture of accessibility positively impacts business, watch and share this webinar produced by the Texas Workforce Solutions and the Texas Workforce Commission in collaboration with Seton Healthcare Family.

Follow us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter for more updates about #TXHireAbility.

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Celebrates Women in Business

Two conference attendees, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs and Keynote speaker Geneva Grainger.
Pictured from left are two conference attendees, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs and Keynote speaker Geneva Grainger.

October is National Women’s Small Business Month and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is celebrating the contributions of women in the Texas workforce. TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs prepared a brief video message in recognition of the month long celebration.

In September, TWC along with the Economic Development and Tourism Division of the Office of the Governor, Alamo Area Council of Governments, and Workforce Solutions Alamo, hosted the Inaugural Governor’s Business Forum for Women in partnership with the Governor’s Commission for Women. The sold-out forum provided women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs with informative sessions on finance, branding and communication and business development. This forum was so successful that it will become a regular series of Governor’s Office of Small Business Assistance Governor’s Small Business Forums, which promote the state of Texas as a premier business location.

This forum brought together resource partners from the University of Texas San Antonio Business Development Agency Business Center, Texas Women’s University Women’s Leadership Institute, US Small Business Administration, and Texas Facilities Commission, along with corporate and business leaders to share best practices for creating dynamic changes in today’s world and seizing opportunities and overcoming obstacles.

“TWC believes that small businesses are the backbone of the Texas economy and women play a key role in the success of the state. Texas’ history of women-owned businesses is longstanding and it is great to acknowledge these business owners for their hard work and commitment to excellence,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs.

Texas currently ranks second in the number of women-owned businesses, but Texas numbers are growing at more than twice the rate of all businesses nationwide¹.

Women business owners serve as important role models for potential job creators across the state and play a significant part in the Texas economy. Texas has been listed as the most small-business friendly state in the nation and also earned an A+ from entrepreneurs who started a business in Texas². Women-owned small businesses are an important part of our state’s continued economic success.

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs spoke to attendees on the topic of “Having a small business in a big business world” during the Inaugural Governor’s Business Forum for Women. This is the seventh year of the Governor’s Small Business Forums, which have been held in rural and urban locations throughout the state and are designed to support the more than 470,000 Texas employers who employ 100 or fewer workers.

These forums are designed to give entrepreneurs and small businesses valuable tools, skills and knowledge needed to thrive in today’s fast-paced economy. Featuring a wide range of instructive seminars and expert speakers offering vital information on both public and private resources, the forums offer a great opportunity to network and connect with industry specialists, government officials, service providers and other regional businesses.

Upcoming events will be held in San Angelo, Brownsville, Victoria, Lufkin and Round Rock. For more information on dates for these events, visit the Texas Wide Open for Business website.

[1] What Make Texas the Most Small Business Friendly State, and Rhode Island the Least – August 15, 2015 Forbes Media

[2] Gov. Greg Abbott: My Goal is to make Texas the No. 1 State for Women-Owned Businesses – September 28, 2015 Forbes Media

Expansion of Federal Tax Savings Program can help Employers save money each year

Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient added to those eligible for Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Woman standing in doorway of restaurant smiling

Employers who hire a Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient are now entitled to receive up to $2,400 in tax savings for each individual added to their payroll starting January 1, 2016. As part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act), this group was added to the list of targeted populations who qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

WOTC, a federal income tax benefit administered by the U.S. Department of Labor for employers, helps targeted workers move from economic dependency into self-sufficiency as they earn a steady income and become contributing taxpayers, while participating employers are able to reduce their income tax liability.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) assists employers by certifying the eligibility of individuals for this federal employer tax benefit. For more information regarding the WOTC program, visit the TWC WOTC web page.

Eligible groups, including the new Qualified Long Term Unemployment Recipients, for WOTC include:

  • Ex-felons
  • Residents of empowerment zones or rural renewal counties
  • Summer youth
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit recipients
  • Supplemental Security Income recipients
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients
  • Vocational rehabilitation referrals
  • Long Term Family Assistance recipients
  • Veteran groups – Veterans receiving SNAP benefits, disabled and unemployed veterans

Each group has specific qualifications and employers can earn a tax credit from $1,200 to $9,600 per eligible employee hired, depending on which group the newly hired worker represents.

 

Free training helps small business meet new regulations

Hamburger from Sweet's Shop
Sweet’s Shop has been serving 100 percent, old fashioned hamburgers to Snyder residents since 1954. Photo credit Sweet’s Shop Facebook page.

In 2015, Legislation relating to training courses for certain food handlers was passed in an effort to eliminate food borne illnesses. The Texas Food Establishment Rules became effective in Oct. 2015 and gave businesses one year to provide training to all food service employees.

For small businesses without a large training budget, providing the training to even a small staff can become a challenge.

However, one Snyder restaurant Sweet’s Shop, went to Western Texas College to discuss their training needs and learned about the Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business program.

The Skills for Small Business program provides businesses with fewer than 100 employees, state-funded training to meet their business needs with an emphasis on training new workers or upgrading skills of incumbent workers.

Donna Cutler, director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Western Texas College, encourages small businesses to apply.

“TWC has established a very user friendly system and this program is a great way for small businesses to provide better training for their small workforce,” said Cutler.

When a qualifying small business identifies a training need, courses may be selected from classes offered at their local community or technical college.

Western Texas College worked with Sweet’s Shop to coordinate the food handling training needed for eight workers at the restaurant and provided certificates of completion.

Sweet’s Shop’s Cruz Aviles found the application process to be easy and has advice for other small businesses.

“Take advantage of this program,” said Aviles. “You will learn from it and definitely get something out of it.”

Skills for Small Business provides tuition and fees for employees who participate in an existing course applicable to a business need. Up to $1,800 may be approved for newly hired workers and existing employees may be eligible for up to $900. Newly hired workers include those who were hired within 12 months prior to receipt of the application.

Through their partnership with Western Texas College, Sweet’s Shop was able to meet the new legislation ahead of the effective date for compliance.

In addition to the food handler’s certification, Sweet’s Shop owners attended courses in marketing, Photoshop and QuickBooks.

Donna Cutler has observed how the Skills for Small Business program can make a huge impact.

“Especially on the small businesses that would really be struggling to find money for training,” said Cutler. “This program has allowed them to get the training they need at no cost.”

Small businesses are encouraged to apply directly to TWC for training approval. Employers seeking more information about the Skills for Small Business program, including applications and information about how to apply may visit the TWC website at www.texasworkforce.org/ssb.

TWC launches paperless unemployment claim correspondence for employers

Stay on top of your unemployment claim correspondence with Electronic Correspondence for Employers with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). TWC Employer Benefits Services now offers a secure online mailbox for quick and easy access to unemployment claim documents.

small business owners
small business owners

Using your Employer Benefits Services account, you can have:

  • 24-7 access – online access to claim documents anytime from a secure inbox
  • Secure access – one administrator controls access and permission levels for multiple users
  • Faster processing – maximize response time to deadlines on multiple unemployment claims

Employers can go paperless by signing up to receive Unemployment Claim correspondence electronically, instead of through postal mail service.

For online access to unemployment claim correspondence, sign up for Electronic Correspondence using our new Employer Benefits Services system. Electronic Correspondence allows you to receive most, but not all, of the unemployment claim notices concerning your TWC account, such as the Notice of Unemployment Claim Application, claim determinations and chargeback forms. Employers must have a TWC tax account number to register for this service.

At this time, TWC must continue to use postal mail to send the following documents to employers:

  • Appeals correspondence, such as hearing notices or appeal decisions
  • Tax correspondence, such as status change forms, and adjustment reports

To sign up for this convenient service, go to the Employer Benefits Services webpage. You can also obtain helpful information on How to Use Employer Benefits Services or view the Tutorial on Electronic Correspondence.