Yang-Tan researchers will be honored May 21 with best paper award

An award-winning paper by researchers in Cornell ILR’s Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability reveals that although more people are now working remotely in the United States, the percentage of workers with disabilities in flexible and remote work positions did not increase after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly as much as it did for those without disabilities.

An Accommodation for Whom? Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed the Landscape of Flexible and Remote Work for Workers with Disabilities? examines whether gender, race, age and educational attainment are important factors that explain why workers with disabilities did not obtain as much remote employment as workers who do not have disabilities.

Authors Jennifer D. Brooks and Sarah von Schrader, director of research and program evaluation at the Yang-Tan Institute, found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, workers with disabilities reported similar rates of flexible work hours, formal work-from-home arrangements and fully remote work as those without disabilities, but in 2020, only 26% of U.S. employees with disabilities worked remotely, compared to 36% of those without disabilities.

“What we learned was that regardless of year, flexible and remote work rates vary by demographic group, with disabled workers who are white, female, and college-educated more likely to access these options than multiply marginalized disabled workers,” Brooks said.

The research showed that workers with ​​disabilities who were less likely to have obtained flexible or remote work were male, had less education or were not white.

Brooks will present the research when the Best Paper Award is formally announced on May 21 at the annual NARRTC conference in Alexandria, Virginia.

The paper was published in the Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal on Oct. 14. It was selected by NARRTC‘s Research Committee as the best manuscript in 2023 that was funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. The committee evaluated papers based on novelty, importance, methodology and significance.

Read the full story on the ILR School website.

Tonya Engst is the digital content editor at the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability.

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