I propose to take Questions Nos. 2646 and 2722 together.
In addition to providing income supports the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) provides a wide range of employment-related supports for both jobseekers with disabilities and employers seeking to employ a jobseeker with a disability (or retain an existing employee who has or acquires a disability). DEASP supports for jobseekers with disabilities have been designed to enable persons with a disability, including Deaf people, to achieve their employment ambitions by focusing on the individual person’s ability and capacity, rather than on the disability. The pre-employment and in-employment supports available include:
Employment Supports for Jobseekers with a Disability:
DEASP Intreo Service
Jobseekers (including jobseekers with disabilities) who seek support from their local Intreo Centre, will have a meeting arranged with a case officer with a view to agreeing a suitable personal progression plan in order to access the full range of employment supports available with a view to them achieving their employment ambitions.
Local Employment Service
The Department contracts for the provision of the Local Employment Service (LES) with 22 organisations. The LES provide a local gateway, or access point, to the full range of services and facilities that are available to help jobseekers, including jobseekers with disabilities, to enter or return to employment.
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. The service includes the provision of dedicated job coach support as well as both pre-employment and in employment support and assistance.
AHEAD (Support For Graduates With Disabilities)
The Department contracts AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) to deliver the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) and ‘Get Ahead’ programmes. These programmes provide supports for graduates with disabilities seeking to enter the workforce.
The ‘Ability’ programme is co-funded by the Irish Exchequer and the EU's ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning Operational Programme (PEIL, 2014 – 20). Under this programme funding has been provided, through Pobal, for 27 organisations to support young people (aged 15-29) with disabilities in their transition into further education or employment.
Employment Supports for Employers:
Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Wage Subsidy Scheme is targeted at private sector employers and is aimed at encouraging the employment of people with disabilities through the provision of financial incentives (a wage subsidy). The subsidy is delivered in three strands:
- Strand I subsidy is a general subsidy for any productivity shortfall in excess of 20% for a person with a disability, in comparison to a colleague without a disability. An employee must work for a minimum of 21 hours per week up to a maximum of 39 subsidised hours per week. The rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour and the amount of the subsidy is based on the number of hours worked.
- Strand II subsidy is payable when an employer employs three or more people with a disability who are supported by a WSS Strand I payment. Strand II is intended to cover the additional supervisory, management and other work based costs relating to these employees. This top-up payment is a percentage of the Strand I subsidy and is based on the overall number of employees with a disability employed under Strand I. It ranges from an additional 10% of wage subsidy for 3 to 6 employees with a disability to a maximum of 50% of wage subsidy for 23+ employees with a disability.
- Strand III subsidy enables employers who employ 30 or more workers with a disability on the Wage Subsidy Scheme to be eligible for a grant of up to €30,000 per year towards the expense of employing an Employment Assistance Officer to support these employees.
Reasonable Accommodation Fund
The Reasonable Accommodation Fund (RAF) assists both jobseekers with disabilities and employers to enable a person with a disability / impairment to enter / re-enter employment by providing a range of grants. The fund is comprised of:
Employee Retention Grant
The purpose of the Employee Retention Grant Scheme is to assist employers to retain employees who acquire a disability by providing funding to:
- Identify accommodation and/or training to enable the employee to remain in his/her current position; or
- Re-train the employee so that s/he can take up another position within the company.
Workplace Equipment / Adaptation Grant
Where a person with a disability has been offered employment or is in employment, and requires a more accessible workplace or adapted equipment to do the job, s/he or the employer may be able to get a grant towards the costs of adapting premises or equipment. A maximum grant of €6,350 is available towards the cost of adaptations to premises or equipment.
Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme
The Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme provides funding so that employers can buy in Disability Awareness Training for their staff. The purpose of the training is to deliver clear and accurate information about disability and to address questions or concerns that employers and employees may have about working with and supporting a colleague with disabilities.
The Department of Justice & Equality (DJE) is the lead department with regards to Ireland’s Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities. Currently DJE are preparing a revised action plan (in consultation with government departments, agencies and stakeholders) to deliver on the objectives of the CES: which will see further developments not only within DEASP provision but across all departments and agencies operating in this space.