Training Outline

5.2 Standard Lecture: Employment Support Measures (2.5 hours)

  • Explain to participants that employment support measures can be provided to either the employer or the person with a disability or both. Critical to the success of any pending legislation is that these supports should be planned for and adequately resourced from the time the law is enacted. Use Transparency 83 to highlight the many different forms these supports can take: financial incentives; benefits in kind such as specialized equipment and technical advisory and support services.
  • Emphasize to participants that when the employment support measures take the form of financial support, the money could be used merely to cover any extra costs associated with employment of the worker with a disability (e.g. costs associated with making a reasonable accommodation); or, the financial support could provide a financial incentive to the person with a disability, or, more usually to the employer. Use Transparency 84 to illustrate these options.

    Explain to participants that this incentive for employers goes beyond any identifiable additional costs associated with employing a person with a disability. Such incentives can be classified as a “reward” for employers, and are not designed to cover or be specifically attached to any extra costs associated with employing people with disabilities.

    Many disability advocates object, however, to the practice of rewarding employers to take people with disabilities as workers. Their criticism stems from the fact that not only does the practice reinforce the notion that people with disabilities are inferior workers, but it is also often manipulated by employers who may keep the workers at very low pay with little possibility of advancement. If the rationale is that the worker with a disability is less productive than non-disabled workers, then many advocates feel that the employer should be permitted to pay such workers less, but then the supplement should be paid to the worker to bring the wage up to the level paid to other workers, rather than to the employer.

    Transition to Transparency 85, and explain to participants that you will now consider specific forms of employment support measures.

  • Provision of Specialized Work-Related Equipment
    Referencing section 5.2.1 of the Primer, begin by reviewing the examples provided in Transparency 86.

    “A blind person may require a computer keyboard with a Braille reader in order to use a computer”.

    “An individual with cerebral palsy may require adaptive agricultural equipment in order to work on a farm”.

    Explain that these are both examples of specialized work-related equipment that an individual with a disability may need to perform his/her job effectively. In many cases this equipment can be made or adapted readily and cheaply, and its provision will not prove problematic. Highlight that it may sometimes prove costly or problematic for either the worker with a disability or the employer to obtain and/or pay for the equipment. Refer to Transparency 86 again to consider options in these cases.

    Emphasize that it is important to ascertain whether the equipment is being given or lent to the employer, or to the individual worker. If it is being given to individual workers, they can then take the specialized equipment with them if they change jobs. If it is being given or lent to the employer, the question of what happens to the equipment when the individual worker leaves the job must be considered. Finally, the question of whether this equipment will be made available free of charge or whether some fee or deposit will be payable needs to be decided when the scheme is being designed.

    Conclude the discussion on specialized work-related equipment by referencing the following United Kingdom example. Emphasize to participants that in the UK, specialized equipment is provided as part of an integrated set of services. In addition, emphasize that it is important in designing individual support schemes, to provide a coherent set of services, flexibly combined to cater to individual needs.

    In the United Kingdom, the Employment Service provides individually tailored programmes of Work Preparation (also called Employment Rehabilitation) to help a person with a disability to obtain work. The programme addresses the employment-related needs that result from the individual’s disability, and currently prevent them from being able to enter employment or training of a type that would otherwise be suitable.

    An additional UK scheme, the Access to Work Scheme, provides practical advice to help overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability. It provides grants designed to partially cover extra employment costs, including special aids or equipment for employment, adaptations to premises and existing equipment, help with travel to work if public transport is unsuitable, a support worker to provide help in a workplace, and a communicator for support at interviews.

  • Provision of Specialized Equipment for Daily Living
    Referencing section 5.2.2 of the Primer, explain to participants that many workers with disabilities require specialized equipment in order to achieve a degree of independence in everyday life and to increase their ability to function. Use Transparency 87 to highlight some common examples of such equipment including wheelchairs and hearing aids.

    Emphasize that without such equipment, individuals with disabilities could find it highly difficult to find and hold down employment. Explain that for these reasons the provision of such basic equipment, needed to function in all spheres of life, can play a vital role in enabling individuals with disabilities to take up employment. Ask participants the following questions:

    • “If an individual required the use of hand rails in their home for mobility purposes, but they were not available in their community or workplace, what might the implications be?”
    • “Are there potentially other types of equipment that could meet this individual’s need in other environments?”
    • “If so, what considerations would need to be made in putting them in place?”
    • “If specialized equipment an individual needs is not used only for employment, is it appropriate to expect the employer to be the provider?”

    Explain that there may be multiple responses to the last question. The response depends on whether such equipment is used for more than employment, because in that situation it may not be appropriate to expect the employer to be the provider. Instead this task should be coordinated by public authorities that, as with specialized work-related equipment, could set up units to produce and maintain this daily living-related equipment.

    State that, as in the case of work-related equipment, the public authorities will need to decide whether this equipment will be provided free of charge or whether some fee will be charged. In some countries, a means test is applied, with those with income above a certain level being required to pay, and those with income below this level receiving the equipment free of charge.

  • Provision of Transport Facilities
    Referencing section 5.2.3 of the Primer, explain that one common problem experienced by people with disabilities concerns transportation. Use Transparency 88 to review for participants some of the primary obstacles and issues experienced. This discussion could include that poor transport facilities restrict ability to travel to and from work and to other locations. Further, public transport systems are often also inaccessible to people with certain kinds of disabilities. Finally, many people with disabilities are unable to afford to run their own car or use expensive private taxis.

    Explain that a number of measures can be introduced to promote the safe and appropriate travel to and from work of people with disabilities including:

    • Developing an accessible public transport system - involving ensuring that buses, trams, trains, metro systems and taxis are all accessible to people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs.
    • Ensuring that some private taxis can be used by people with disabilities – by providing vouchers which can be exchanged for taxi journeys to and from work, either through the employer or public authorities.
    • Providing individuals with a disability the financial support to enable them to make their own transport arrangements - for taxi travel, as a subsidy of the purchase or running of an adapted car or to pay someone else to bring them to work. Individuals with disabilities could also be allowed to use public transit at no cost (such as is done in Brazil).
    • Providing specific and separate transport systems (called para-transit) to allow people with disabilities to travel to and from work, usually in adapted mini buses which can be accessed by people who use a wheelchair.

    Conclude this section by illustrating with the following example from Australia provided on page 56 of the Primer.

    “In Australia, the Mobility Allowance provides financial assistance to people with disabilities who are in paid employment, voluntary work, vocational training, undertaking independent living/life skills training or a combination of paid work and training, and who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance. The individual recipient is free to decide how to use this money to meet their mobility needs. For example, the money can be put toward the purchase, upkeep, and running of an adapted vehicle; used to pay someone else to provide transport in a private vehicle; or used to pay for taxi journeys”.

  • Financial Support/Financial Incentives for People with Disabilities
    Transitioning to Transparency 89, and referring to section 5.2.4 of the Primer, explain to participants that some people with disabilities may require financial support or financial incentives in order to enable or encourage them to take up employment. Highlight the reasons why such financial support or incentives may be necessary.

    • When they take up a job, individuals may give up the right to claim disability social security benefits, which they regard as providing a guaranteed and regular income. This may be a difficult decision, as the job may involve an uncertain future. Policy makers in countries that have a system of disability benefits in place should pay particular attention to ensuring that the social security system does not create a disincentive for people with disabilities to take up employment.
    • One means of encouraging employment is to allow individuals with a disability to automatically reclaim their disability benefits if, for some reason, they are unable to remain in employment. This right might be limited in time, for example, to a period of one year. Emphasize to participants that in most countries, it takes a period of time to be assessed as eligible for disability benefits and that this waiting period could be waived in the case of those who go off the benefit to enter employment, should they lose their jobs within a defined period.
    • Another way to promote employment is to introduce a ‘bridging’ arrangement, in which individuals are entitled to earn income up to a specified level as a supplement to their social security allowance, without the level of this allowance being affected. Then a proportionate reduction in this allowance is made for income above this threshold, up to a specified level, and the allowance is discontinued above the top level. A further reason why financial supports and incentives are needed is that many people with disabilities may be able to find only low-paid work. From a financial perspective, this situation may leave them in no better position than claiming disability benefits. A financial incentive which tops up low pay may help to encourage these individuals to take up poorly paid work, in order to gain work experience, as a first step towards developing a career.
    • Another point is that people starting a new job must often cover certain costs prior to taking up the work. These costs might result from the need to purchase new clothing, specialized equipment or training, or prepaid transport passes. A one-time or ongoing payment to people with disabilities who have limited resources could help to cover these costs and help prevent this expenditure from becoming a barrier to taking up a job.

    Conclude this section by illustrating with the examples provided on page 57 of the Primer from New Zealand and Finland.

    “In New Zealand, the Disability Allowance reimburses people for ongoing regular costs that they incur because they have a disability. The amount paid depends on the person’s costs and the level of their income.”

    “In Finland, the disability allowance is paid to disabled people aged between 16 and 64 to help them better cope in everyday life, at work or in education. The allowance is intended as compensation for costs incurred by disability or ill health. The allowance comes in three amounts, depending on the severity of disability. The recipient's income or assets do not influence the amount of the allowance, which is also untaxed.”

  • Financial Support / Financial Incentives for Employers
    Use Transparency 90 to describe for participants that financial incentives for employers can take several forms including grants, tax credits, tax deductions and wage subsidies. Emphasize to participants that financial support for employers can take two forms – an incentive to support good practice, or a subsidy to compensate employers for extra costs or low productivity associated with an employee with a disability.

    Explain that public authorities can provide financial subsidies to employers in the form of a grant or tax incentive to cover any extra costs associated with employing a disabled worker. In some cases and as a result, for example, of providing additional training or making necessary adaptations to facilities, an employer may be faced with certain additional costs. In order to ensure that these costs are not a disincentive or a reason for not employing a person with a disability, the public authorities could meet all or some of these costs. In many cases, though, employers will not incur any extra costs and financial subsidies will not be needed. Illustrate this with the examples from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands provided on page 58 of the Primer.

    “In Belgium, a Collective Agreement, concluded between the social partners provides that under certain conditions, the employer may pay only part of the total remuneration of the worker with a disability, the remainder being paid by a public body. In exceptional cases, labor inspectors may authorize the employer to pay workers recognized as having disabilities, a remuneration that is under the minimum level set either in collective agreements or by custom. This reduction – which may never fall under 50 per cent of the normal remuneration – is justified by the reduced productivity of the worker. The difference between what the employer is authorized to pay and the normal level of remuneration is then paid to the disabled person by the public authorities.”

    “In Germany, employers may apply for loans or grants in order to comply with reasonable accommodation duties. In addition, wage subsidies and vocational training are provided for all disabled persons. Employers who are not subject to reasonable accommodation or quota obligations can also apply for grants to make their worksite and workplaces accessible. Wage subsidies are granted where a disabled worker has a lower productivity level. The amount granted depends on the severity of disability and other factors that hamper integration into the open employment sector, such as age. Wage subsidies are granted for a limited time, with a maximum duration of three or eight years, depending on various factors.”

    “In the Netherlands, subsidies may be granted to the employer or to the disabled employee for the costs of ‘facilities’/’services’ related to (re)integration. These extra costs may vary from special furniture, to transport facilities, to education or training facilities, etc.”

  • Financial Support / Financial Incentives to Encourage Recruitment
    Refer back to Transparency 90 to remind participants that financial incentives for employers can take several forms including grants, wage subsidies or tax incentives, to encourage them to employ workers with a disability.

    Explain to participants that unlike the financial subsidy referred to above, the value of this incentive would not be linked to, or limited to, any additional costs an employer incurred through employing a particular person with a disability. The financial incentive is intended as an encouragement to employers to take on individuals with disabilities, and may be useful in promoting the employment of people with disabilities who experience particular difficulties in the labour market. The value of the incentive could be linked to the perceived difficulty of employing the worker.

    Use Transparency 91 to illustrate with this example and ask the following questions.

    “A person with a severe disability or without an established work history may be regarded as more difficult to employ than a person with a mild disability, or with an established work history.“

    • “Why might it be particularly important to provide a financial incentive to employers to hire this individual?”
    • “Is there a benefit to the individual with a disability?”
    • “Do you see any negatives or downsides to providing the employer a financial incentive?”
    • “How would you determine who to make eligible for this type of financial incentive?”

    Explain to participants that the incentive could be linked to the amount of time the worker has been unemployed. A higher incentive could be provided to take on a worker who has been unemployed for one year or more. This approach is likely to be less stigmatizing and easier to administer than if the incentive was linked to the level of the individual’s work capacity. The incentive could be temporary (for example, a monthly payment over a period of one or two years) or without a time limit.

    Using Transparency 92, remind participants that in designing financial incentive measures, steps should be taken to prevent or minimize the following problems which may arise:

    • Where the schemes are temporary, employers may tend to dismiss disabled workers employed under the scheme as soon as possible, and to take on a new worker with a disability who is eligible for financial support;
    • Workers with disabilities who are employed under such schemes may be stigmatized, and regarded as less able or less productive;
    • Non-disabled workers may resent the employment of subsidized workers with disabilities, if they perceive them as a threat to their own jobs.

    Ask participants how these potential problems might be avoided, as highlighted in Transparency 92. If not generated by participants, emphasize that where the payment is temporary, the employer could be obliged to retain the worker for a certain period after the incentive payment has ceased. Information campaigns could also be designed to highlight the ability of workers with disabilities and tackle stereotypes. The support of trade unions for the financial incentive scheme could also be solicited, as a means to overcome reservations which non-disabled workers may have about the scheme.

    Conclude this section by highlighting the following examples provided on page 60 of the Primer from the Netherlands, Canada and Australia.

    In the Netherlands, an agreed subsidy (called a ‘placement budget)’ is provided for employers as a compensation for hiring a disabled person for at least six months or permanently. In addition, a subsidy (called a ‘reallocation budget’) can be provided to an employer who allocates a new job to an employee who has become unable to perform the job for which he/she was initially employed. Alternatively, public subsidies can be provided to employers who request a tailored subsidy package where the reintegration costs exceed the placement budget or reallocation budget.

    In Canada, unemployed individuals eligible for employment insurance who have difficulty finding work due to employment barriers are assisted in locating an employer who will enter into an agreement with the local Human Resource Centre of Canada office, in order to provide the individual with employment. The agreement with the employer can be approved for up to 78 weeks.

    In Australia, a Wage Subsidy Scheme is used as an incentive for employers providing jobs to people with disabilities in the open labor market. The scheme aims to increase the competitiveness of workers with disabilities in gaining employment of at least 8 hours per week, for a minimum of 13 weeks.

    Emphasize that a combination of financial incentives and employment-related support services needs to be introduced for disability non-discrimination legislation to be effective and that these incentives and services need to be provided in a coordinated, coherent way. These supports will assist job-seekers with disabilities in finding work, off-setting the costs of going to work, underwriting potential costs for employers in making specific types of accommodations, and facilitating employers in recruiting and retaining persons with disabilities. Explain that these incentives and supports are also critical in developing effective quota schemes.


    OPTIONAL EXERCISE (1.5 hours): The purpose of this exercise is to provide participants an opportunity to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of offering specific financial incentives to people with disabilities and/or employers. Break the group into six smaller groups. Assign each group a position:

    • Positives associated with financial incentives for people with disabilities to encourage work.
    • Negatives associated with financial incentives for people with disabilities to encourage work.
    • Positives associated with providing financial incentives to employers to cover disability and access-related costs.
    • Negatives associated with providing financial incentives to employers to cover disability and access-related costs.
    • Positives associated with providing financial incentives to employers for recruiting, hiring and retaining.
    • Negatives associated with providing financial incentives to employers for recruiting, hiring and retaining.

    Explain to participants that they need to develop an argument that represents the position they have been assigned. Each group will have 20 minutes to form its position and then 10 minutes to share its findings.

  • Consulting Employment Services
    Explain to participants that over the past 20 years, there has been growth in the number of individuals with disabilities entering the labour market. This growth has included developments in the area of providing essential supports to the workplace. Use Transparency 93 to highlight the variety of forms that technical advisory and consultative employment support can provide including pre-employment services, job placement services and employment services. Explain to participants that each of these areas will be explored in more depth.

    Using Transparency 94, detail for participants the array of pre-employment services that might be available. Help participants to understand that vocational assessment is a service to assist in understanding the specific skills, traits and abilities a person with a disability has that can be matched to specific jobs. It also aids in identifying specific support needs and potential accommodations an individual may need to be successful in the job market. Typically, a vocational assessment is a standardized battery of aptitude and other tests used to generate a standard framework for the individual being tested. Work trials and functional assessment are more functionally-based in that they focus on real situations and jobs and assess the interaction of the person while actually performing the job in the environment and culture. Information gathered can be critical in determining a person’s ability to function independently as well as providing an excellent opportunity for testing accommodations and modifications during performance. Pre-employment skills training focuses on aiding individuals with disabilities to gain skills they may need to pursue a specific career or, more generally, to assist them to enter the job market through developing interviewing and/or job seeking skills. Often, career counseling is the ‘glue’ that holds pre-employment services together, because the pre-employment process is an ongoing dialogue to gain a better understanding of the individual, the types of work environment of interest to him or her and the job match between the two.

    Using Transparency 95, outline for participants the breadth of services potentially available to support job placement. Job development is a specific activity that job placement organizations engage in to assist them in understanding their local labour market and the employment opportunities available. It focuses on building a relationship with the labour market and creating job opportunities for potential applicants with disabilities. Job seeking support is provided to individuals with disabilities once they have determined their specific employment goals. It is a negotiation process between the job placement organization and the individual. It involves identifying the parts of the job-seeking process that the individual can perform independently as well as where he/she may need additional support - such as finding job opportunities. A critical part of the job placement process is job matching. This process involves taking what was learned about the individual with a disability as part of the vocational and functional assessment and pairing it with an analysis of a specific job and work environment and culture. Consider this step as a type of balancing act to determine where an individual’s skills and abilities match to the job. Where they do not match, a job placement organization knows that additional supports must be provided. This gap potentially results in supporting the individual with a disability and the employer to negotiate accommodations and work adaptations needed for effective job performance. Often at this point in the job placement process, the job placement organization may provide technical advice to employers to assist them in making accommodations or possibly with restructuring the job or specific tasks of the job.

    Use Transparency 96 to explain the many aspects of providing employment services. Most typically, once an individual with a disability is placed in a job, there may be some agreement concerning the type of training and additional supports the individual will require to accommodate the specific disability. This can include on-the-job training provided by the employer with possible enhancements, as well as job coaching which may be provided by the job placement organization. Once an individual with a disability is employed, the job placement organization may continue to provide ongoing services to support job advancement, ongoing career counseling and crisis management, as needed.

    Close this module by emphasizing to participants that the array of services and supports discussed may or may not be provided by the same job placement organization. It is critical to ascertain from the start, the extent of technical advisory and consultative supports that may be available, and from which agencies, to support the employment process.