Parafix Kft. has been operating since 2011 as a partner company of an English corporation. Parafix specializes in manufacturing adhesive tape, films, foams and foils. The company’s specialty area, adhesive technology, demands specialized engineering expertise.
Detailed description of practice and its goals
The employment practice is relatively recent, with only three years’ history to look back on. It has not yet been formalized, but the company is presently working on developing an equal opportunities strategy that will include the employment of people with altered working capacity. We selected this enterprise with the aim of presenting a medium-sized Hungarian company that, albeit established by an English parent company, has a great amount of autonomy, both with respect to its operations and HR practices, and therefore features the characteristics of a Hungarian SME. The company’s inclusive and employee-centered approach, as well as the reflexive attitude towards its practice of employing people with altered working capacity was also among the reasons for their selection.
The company hired people with altered working capacity for preexisting positions in the packaging department. At present there are four such employees who perform the same job as the others in the department. The company is about to open a new plant in a different location, where they are also planning to employ people with altered working capacity in the same jobs as in the old plant; however, the company is open to making new jobs available for them too.
Soteria Foundation and the National Office for Rehabilitation and Social Affairs NORSA (Nemzeti Rehabilitációs és Szociális Hivatal, NRSZH) provide help with recruiting employees, although the company works on the integration of employees with altered working capacity on its own.
Soteria Foundation was founded in 1995 to support people with mental health problems. It is connected to the mental health care system through a psycho-social approach to mental health problems. It provides its services to its clients as part of the mental health care system.
Background, participants and their responsibilities
The idea to recruit people with altered working capacity came up when a lawyer, freshly out of law school, began working at the company’s HR department. As part of her university studies at the Law Department of Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, she completed specialized training on industrial relations and social security management. The new employee’s suggestion to hire people with altered working capacity was received positively by the company management as corporate social responsibility has always been integral to Parafix’s philosophy, values and management style.
The head of the packaging unit is responsible for ensuring smooth operations within the department and for addressing and handling any problems that may arise. If problems persist, then the HR department is involved. Interviewees from the HR department emphasized the importance of continuous monitoring and maintaining contact with employees, as well as the establishment of an atmosphere that encourages the entire workforce, including employees with altered working capacity, to communicate both with employees and the management. For a relatively small company with a small workforce such attention may be ensured relatively easily. Integration, ongoing communication, openness, flexibility – these are the values by which the company’s HR policy strives to operate.
Difficulties, strengths, results and key success factors
The company is trying to establish a balance, accommodating the condition of employees with altered working capacity and the potential challenges arising from it (e.g. the frequency of medical examinations and potentially longer holidays). Flexibility is a general approach to all employees. Parafix’s approach builds on the notion that “everything is the same but also different”, implying that anyone can have problems or difficulties, even if these may be different, and that anyone can end up having altered working capacity.
“And I think that if employers start thinking like this, and think over how important an employee is, and whether the same employee would remain just as important if some kind of change happened in his/her life, then the employer can have an idea about the kind of disability that is still acceptable in a certain position.”
(a management-level employee)
The level of fluctuation among employees with altered working capacity is low. This has not always been the case. At the beginning, fluctuation was high, until the company finally developed a relevant employment approach and defined the types of disability that they can accommodate. They recognized the importance of continuous communication and feedback, as well as prior sensitization, the latter taking the shape of discussions with employees. Their experience underlines the work of alternative labour market providers and the importance of sharing experiences with other employers.
Assessment of the practice and its results
A kezdeti nehézségek után a felvett megváltozott munkaképességű emberek állandó munkatársakká váltak, a fluktuáció alacsony, ami – formális értékelés híján – arra enged következtetni, hogy az eddigi gyakorlat bevált.