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Supported Employment Frequently Asked Questions

Questions for people using supported employment services.  


1. What is Supported Employment?

Supported employment is support to assist you to find a paid job that suits you.

2. Can I choose who provides me with support either before or once I get into work?

Supported employment aims to give you the encouragement; professional advice and support you need to find and keep a job. A supported employment agency should have the skills and experience to work with you to overcome any barriers you face. An employment support worker will take you through an initial meeting, followed by a process of identifying your skills, wants and needs. Based on this you will together search for, and hopefully, secure a job. It is likely that same person will support you from start to finish, including in work. You will also meet specialists, such as people who provide money and benefits advice. If you and the employment support worker do not get on, you can ask the service who provides your support to change the worker.

3. How will I know if the provider I decide to assist me is any good?

The important thing for supported employment providers is to place you in a suitable job; a real, paid job which you want and feel comfortable in. Supported employment agencies also should provide you with ongoing support once you are in work, to help with any changes in your workplace or tasks or to provide advice about how to handle any tricky circumstances. 

Many supported employment agencies will have their own internal quality standards to which they work. You can ask for a copy if you haven't already received one. These standards will tell you about what you can expect and how the service should be delivered. Some agencies may be part of a local Customer Charter agreement detailing specific service commitments. They may also carry out evaluations of their service by asking people who use it to tell them what they think. 

If you feel that the agency is not focussing on work, or not taking into account your personal circumstances, needs or wishes, you should talk to your employment worker about it, or if this is difficult, speak to a senior member of staff in the supported employment agency. If that is not possible perhaps you could talk to someone else like a social worker, support worker, or advocacy worker who can contact the agency and make them aware of your issues. If you still feel dissatisfied with the agency, you should put your concerns in writing to them. 

4. Can supported employment apply where someone is working under Permitted Work rules? 


Permitted Work is purely a benefit arrangement - employers don't offer 'permitted work' -  it's still down to looking at part-time job vacancies, applying for them, going for interviews and being offered a job. But these arrangements allow you to try some paid work while still remaining on benefits. You can do a job under the Permitted Work Rules without the need for prior approval from a doctor. To find out more about Permitted Work see the Disability Rights Factsheet (January 2013).

5. What support can I expect from a supported employment worker? 

Employment support workers are trained to listen to your preferences and to work with you to make plans for finding a job. They have a variety of skills and experience and contact with different specialists, e.g. in health, as well as a variety of employers.

Employment support workers usually will work with you through 5 steps:

  1. Finding out about your preferences: e.g. do you want to work? What sort of work do you want? What is important to you in terms of finding a workplace where you can flourish? For how long each week? Whereabouts?

  2. Finding out more about your skills and experiences, and increasing your skills and experience, especially in areas that will help you get the type of job you want.

  3. Finding a job that matches what you want, with a suitable employer; and supporting you to apply for that job, including attending an interview

  4. Working with the employer and you to make sure that the support you need at work is in place, e.g. any changes to tasks necessary to make the job work for you; or an adjustment in working hours, to allow you to also access a service that is only available during working hours or enable you to work later in the day when your medication makes it difficult to work earlier in the day.

  5. Ongoing help and information after you have started at work, to enable you to get through any difficult patches or significant changes in the workplace.

6. What is Work Choice?

Work Choice is the Department of Work and Pensions' employability programme for disabled people and people with substantial barriers to work. It began in October 2010 and is provided through a range of agencies including Remploy and the prime providers of Shaw Trust and Momentum in Scotland. Shaw Trust and Momentum work with partners including voluntary sector (like Capability Scotland and SAMH) and local authority services to provide supported employment services under Work Choice. Most people will get onto Work Choice through a referral from their Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) in a job centre.

7. What will happen to my benefits when I start work?

Your employment worker or a benefits advisor will be able to do a "better off in work" calculation to ensure you do not lose out financially when you start a new job. They may also be able to help you claim "in work" benefits like Working Tax Credit or other benefits related to your disability or health condition.