24 / 2 / 2016 4.34pm
The Work Choice programme supports individuals with disabilities and long-term health problems to find and sustain employment. Funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the programme is delivered by a range of different providers across the UK, including organisations from the public, private and third sectors.
The programme is voluntary and can be accessed through Jobcentre Plus. The type of help offered depends upon individual need and circumstances, but can include training, confidence building, interview coaching and skills development.
To be eligible a person must be of working age and have a recognised disability that represents a barrier to them finding or keeping a job. Individuals are advised to read the full eligibility criteria and programme information. If suitable, they should then request an appointment with a Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) in order to be referred.
What this means for employers in the NHS
As well as supporting individual job seekers, local Work Choice service providers can also help organisations to employ individuals with disabilities who need specialist support. A provider can work with an employer to develop a support package designed to help meet the recruitment needs of the organisation.
Wage incentives are sometimes available as part of Work Choice (subject to terms and conditions). Although central government departments cannot claim these financial incentives, wider public sector employers such as NHS trusts may be eligible.
Work Choice can also assist with staff retention, as support is available for existing employees at risk of losing their job due to a disability. Employers should also be aware of the Jobcentre Plus Access to Work scheme which exists to support employers with any additional costs or practical support needs for employees with disabilities.
Further information on Work Choice support for employers, wage incentives and how to make contact with your local provider, is available from the government website.
Disability Confident campaign
By focusing on a person as an individual with ability, rather than a disability, employers can find solutions that benefit both the individual and the organisation. Disability Confident is a campaign delivered by DWP to support employers with recruiting and retaining people with disabilities and health conditions for their skills and talent. To help you recruit and retain someone who can add value to your organisation, DWP have produced information and resources as part of this campaign. Employers can also demonstrate their commitment to this agenda by signing up to become a Disability Confident partner organisation.
Equality and Diversity in the NHS
As underlined by the NHS Constitution and Equality Act 2010, the NHS has a ‘wider social duty to promote equality through the services it provides’. Employers should be aware of the potential Work Choice offers for new and existing employees with disabilities. In a wider sense, the programme could support individual NHS organisations with their targets for offering employment opportunities to individuals with protected characteristics.
For further information and resources in this area, please see our webpages on equality and diversity in the NHS workforce.