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Journal Articles Global Social Policy Year : 2022

The disability employment quota, between social policy and antidiscrimination


Many countries worldwide resort to quotas in order to favour the employment of disabled people. Yet, the quota as a policy tool has an ambivalent meaning: while it has been conceived as an advanced form of antidiscrimination policy tool in domains such as gender and racial inequalities, in the sector of disability, it has tended to be theorized as an outdated measure, belonging to a social welfare perspective opposed to the more recent equalitarian policy frame. This article revisits this theoretical debate on the disability employment quota by shifting the focus from a normative discussion to an empirical investigation of the meanings policymakers have endowed it with. I draw on the case of France, where the quota scheme is a cornerstone of disability employment policy: post–World War I provisions were at the origin of a series of reforms extending and reinforcing the quota, in 1957, 1987 and 2005 – leading to the current 6% disabled worker quota imposed to private and public organizations of 20 employees or more. Tracing the historical trajectory of this policy tool and its uses by means of parliamentary debates and secondary sources, I show how quotas in France have had more complex meanings than what the social welfare versus antidiscrimination dichotomy suggests. Before the rise of antidiscrimination policy, they were thought of as a progressive form of social policy, as opposed to more segregative interventions such as pensions or sheltered employment. The adoption of antidiscrimination provisions in 2005 then led to a hybridization between quotas and antidiscrimination policy.
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Dates and versions

hal-03883168 , version 1 (02-12-2022)



Anne Revillard. The disability employment quota, between social policy and antidiscrimination. Global Social Policy, 2022, pp.146801812211385. ⟨10.1177/14680181221138558⟩. ⟨hal-03883168⟩
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