Thursday, 10 September 2020

Questions (139)

Holly Cairns


139. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on providing funding for the supported employment service to independently operate its own work placement programmes to support those more distant from the labour market to gain work experience. [23139/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

My Department's employment support programme for people with disabilities is delivered nationally through its EmployAbility service. The Department has contracts for the provision of the EmployAbility service with 24 companies. This is a specialist employment service designed to improve employment outcomes for jobseekers with a disability and is available to people with disabilities who are capable of working in the open labour market for 8 or more hours per week. It is based on the ethos that participation in employment can be achieved by people with a disability when they are able to avail of individualised supports that are based on their choices and preferences.

The EmployAbility service offers a dedicated Job Coach for people with disabilities interested in employment in the open labour market and provides:

- employment assistance and access to a pool of potential employees with varying levels of skills, abilities and training;

- ongoing support for both the employer and employee throughout employment;

- a professional job matching service to help ensure successful recruitment;

- advice and information on additional employment supports.

The estimated expenditure on Employability in 2020 is €9.9 million.

Any proposal requiring additional funding would increase the cost of contracting the EmployAbility service and can only be considered in an overall budgetary context.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the Wage Subsidy Scheme is an employment support to private sector employers, the objective of which is to encourage employers to employ people with disabilities. The scheme provides financial incentives to private sector employers to hire people with a disability for between 21 and 39 subsidised hours per week under a contract of employment.

The basic rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour giving a total annual subsidy available of €10,748 per annum based on a 39 hour week. The contract of employment offered must be for a minimum of 6 months and the employee should be subject to and have the same rights as per the conditions of employment as any of the other employees. Included in these conditions is the requirement that the employee must be paid the going rate for the job which must be at least the statutory minimum wage. The subsidy rate under this scheme is not linked to the statutory minimum wage - it is a subsidy claimed, subject to certain conditions, against the cost incurred where a productivity shortfall arises from a disability.

I trust that this clarifies the matter.