Employment Professional Guiding Principles for Supported Employment


As an Employment Professional who is supporting a person on his/her journey to employment, your job is to:

  • Treat all individuals that you are supporting with dignity and respect at all times.
  • Provide the right amount of support to the Job Seeker.  You need to balance between over supporting and doing the job for the individual and simply dropping them off to do the job on their own.   
  • Be an appropriate role model to both the Job Seeker and the Employer.
  • Give control of the job to the Job Seeker.
  • Support both the Job Seeker and the Employer to ensure a successful outcome.
  • Represent your organization in a professional manner to the Job Seeker, Employer, and the community at large.
  • Encourage independence in the Job Seeker: we all have the right for dignity of risk.

The following are guiding principles for Supported Employment from the Employment Professional perspective:


1. Choice and Control

Supported Employment is a process that is directed by the Job Seeker in order to achieve his/her career aspirations.

  • Supported Employment guarantees the right of the person experiencing a disability to determine his/her fate and define his/her future.
  • Your role as an Employment Professional is to offer advice and support in order for the Job Seeker to make his/her own decisions regarding future employment opportunities.
  • The Job Seeker controls decisions about what supports should look like.
  • The key is to identify the most natural ways you can support people experiencing disabilities in employment, working in partnership with Employers and others.
  • There is no “one size fits all” approach.  Rather than fitting Job Seekers into an available service model, they have the right to determine the service that suits them.
  • The Job Seeker has the right to explore all employment opportunities.


2. Paid Employment

  • The Job Seeker receives the same rate of pay and benefits as other employees doing the same job.
  • Individuals receive their pay directly from the Employer.
  • Your obligation to the Job Seeker is to ensure his/her conditions of employment are fair and appropriate.
  • A supported employee should have the same opportunities for advancement and training as his/her co-workers, as well as increases in wages and benefits over time.
  • Positions are valued and not seen as charity.  One way of telling is if the position is filled when the supported employee is not there.
  • The Saskatchewan Employment Act needs to be adhered to so as not to be in conflict with the minimum wage, allowable hours of work, and conditions of employment or probationary periods sections.
  • Without proper documentation, unpaid work experiences or volunteering at a for-profit business may be in violation of labour standards.

Click here for more information on your provincial employment standards:



3. Partnership

Job Seekers, Employers, and Employment Professionals determine the individualized strategies for providing support that will assist in career enhancement and ultimately facilitate long-term satisfaction for the Job Seeker and the Employer.

It’s important that you cast a wide net when looking for potential partners in the job development process. Partners could include:

  • Employers
  • Health professionals
  • Neighbours
  • Teachers
  • People from sports organizations
  • Clubs or social groups
  • Friends and family
  • Other service providers.

Not only could these parties bring valuable insights to the process for the Job Seeker, but they also each bring their own unique networks of contacts and supports that could be helpful. These partners can also be allies when additional supports might be needed to address issues.

The Employer and co-workers are integral partners as they need to weigh the business needs equally with the abilities of the Job Seeker. No two jobs or conditions of employment are the same. Your role is to implement strategies providing support to all partnerships.


4. Full Inclusion

When Job Seekers become employees, the goal is to find inclusion both socially and economically.  Your role as the Employment Professional is to:

  • Attempt to find the appropriate assistance for the Job Seeker to become a valued employee.
  • Help the Job Seeker adapt to and become an accepted member of a workplace culture.  This is vital to employment success.
  • Assist with opportunities for the supported employee to interact and work with all employees, whether they have a disability or not, as this is a critical measure of inclusion.

Indicators of Inclusion:

  • The person is seen a regular employee of the business rather than an employee of the service agency.
  • The new employee works next to, and interacts regularly with, coworkers who do not have a disability.
  • The Employer and other employees consider the individual as a valuable team member, and the individual is involved in all workplace social activities.
  • The Employer is satisfied with the match and invests time and resources to develop the new employee in his/her role as they would for other employees.
  • The new employee builds positive relationships with colleagues.
  • Natural supports develop within the workplace, enabling independence from support workers.

Part of your role is to help Employers determine what is required to develop workplaces that are supportive of people experiencing disabilities.

According to Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, persons with disabilities have the right to work on an equal basis with others. This includes the right to secure a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market, and a work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.

Economic inclusion implies that Job Seekers are able to make their own decisions about how they wish to spend the money they earn.


5. Job Search

Timely and appropriate support is provided to achieve successful employment.  Job acquisition is the goal of Supported Employment. While volunteering is valuable, it is not paid employment.

In order for a job search to be successful:

  • Get to know the skills, abilities and preferences of the Job Seeker; this will determine what area(s) to search for employment possibilities.
  • Long periods of pre-employment courses may not be appropriate for most Job Seekers that are eager to be employed in their community.

Employment can be found using a variety of methods, including:

  • Traditional employment - Researching labour market, applying as mainstream Job Seekers, using resumes, interviewing, etc.
  • Customized employment - In consultation with potential Employers, you determine if a suitable job could be customized to match the skills and abilities of the Job Seeker and the needs of the Employer. A proposal may be required outlining the particulars of the “new” job tasks, hours, wage, etc.  Once the Employer has approved the proposal, a contract for services is written up and signed by the Employer. With customized employment, the job description did not exist previously – it was created from scratch or modified from an existing description.
  • Self-Employment - the Job Seeker operates his or her own business that typically stems from a hobby or an interest.  Click here to learn more about the Self-Employment option.


6. Individualized

The idea behind this is:  one job—one person at a time.

The Employment Professional may need to negotiate to meet the unique/specific needs of the Employer and skills of the Job Seeker, one person at a time.  You need to consider:

  • All aspects of Supported Employment are tailored to the needs and capabilities of each person: job procurement, job matching, training and supports.
  • Jobs that are created should be unique and specific to the individual’s ideal conditions for employment.
  • Successful employment matches often happen after a thorough Discovery Process has been completed, and only if the ideal conditions, themes and interests point to that job.
  • To ensure jobs are individualized, first determine the Job Seeker’s skills and interests and then find a job that suits him/her, rather than finding a job first and trying to match individuals.
  • Seek jobs for individuals that are legitimately viable without being heavily subsidized by the agency or government programs.  Look for employment opportunities that don’t require the Job Coach to do the job for the Job Seeker.
  • Become familiar with the business to figure out the best way to fill their request for a new employee.  This about customer service and recognizing the unique needs of the Employer.  
  • Trust and authenticity are the keys to a successful job match. Do not promise what you cannot deliver.


7. Natural Supports

Natural supports are the supports that are naturally provided in any work place.

  • Natural supports are the supports that are typically available in the workplace.
  • Seek a range of preferred learning and support strategies, which are discreet and may naturally fade in time.  For example an employee may provide a prompt to a coworker that it is coffee time.  Over time the employee with a disability may realize it is coffee time when they see the coworker going for coffee.
  • Use natural supports to minimize artificial service interventions in the work setting. Everyone uses natural supports at work; no one works entirely alone in isolation of help from co-workers.
  • Families and support networks are a great potential source of support and information for the individual in employment. They are the experts on the individual and can provide useful information about interests, past experiences and abilities. They can also provide supports or assistance outside of work hours that help the person get and keep his/her job.
  • Support needs to be flexible and may include assistive devices, checklists, or workplace adjustments. Workplace independence and career enhancement is encouraged and supported.
  • The level of support changes over time, as skills and confidence build or new challenges emerge. Be ready to provide information, orientation, training and support for Employers and co-workers.
  • Act as a consultant and facilitator by building on supports that already exist in the workplace and in the person’s life. Access the expertise of the Employer, co-workers and personal support network to sustain the person’s success.


 8. Long-term Support

All stakeholders require long-term support to ensure employment stability is maintained and career enhancement is achieved.

  • Support is provided on an as-needed basis, not subject to time limitations. Effective follow-up supports are contingent upon developing an ongoing working relationship with the Employer, families and other natural supports.
  • The intended goal of long-term support is to assist the individual in the identification and provision of supports and extended services necessary to maintain and enhance his/her position as a valued member of the workforce.
  • In situations where supports were in place initially but then faded, if job tasks change or quality issues/challenges arise, then the Employment Professional can have a conversation with the employee and Employer to see if supports need to be reintroduced or adjusted to ensure continued success.
  • Maintain communication with the Employer on an ongoing basis to circumvent any issues that may arise.
  • Comprehensive supports such as transportation, money, time management, advocacy, and strategies for managing social and communication issues must be available for each Job Seeker who needs them.
  • Adapting or restructuring a job to suit an individual may also be needed.
  • Be flexible in order to provide services based on the needs of the individual and to increase or decrease the supports each person needs over time.
  • All of these supports must be available as long as the person requires them, regardless of income or productivity.

Supported Employment Job Seekers, Employers, and Employment Professionals need to determine individualized strategies for providing support that will assist in career advancement and ultimately facilitate long-term job satisfaction for the worker and the Employer.


9. Continuous Quality Improvement

All stakeholders are involved in the evaluation of the services for the Job Seeker, and the Employment Professional implements improvements as necessary.

  • Stakeholder user groups are supported to participate in planning and decision-making at all levels.
  • Stakeholders strive to excel in best practices, seek advice, and find ways to improve services from all those involved.
  • This may be done on a regular and formal basis by way of survey, focus groups etc., or by a more informal check-in system. Regardless of the method; seek feedback, including complaints and suggestions.
  • Employment Professionals strive to provide the best employment opportunities for individuals experiencing disabilities, with the best possible supports to ensure success.
  • Employment Professionals need to be keenly interested and committed to providing best practice services to meet the needs of the Employers and their business.
  • A number of approaches are available to ensure quality practices in Supported Employment, including professional development, researching other agencies or organizations, and attending conferences.
  • It is your responsibility to act on the results of evaluations to continuously improve your services and outcomes.