What Government Supports are available?
There are several Government supports which can help autistic people find and keep work within the private sector. These include:
Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant
- The Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant is available to private-sector employers, employees or self-employed people of up to €6,350 to adapt the workplace or purchase specialised equipment for staff with disabilities if they are currently working, offered employment or an apprenticeship, changing jobs, or are self-employed. Workplace adaptations may include minor building modifications, like ramps or disabled toilets. It may also include assistive technology such as voice synthesisers, text-to-speech software, picture cue or scheduling software. It also includes training to support these adaptations. Additional funding of up to €9,523 is available if the organisation needs specialist training to use this technology.
Wage Subsidy Scheme
- The Wage Subsidy Scheme provides incentives to private-sector employers to employ disabled workers for more than 20 hours weekly. There are three strands to this Scheme which employers can benefit from:
- Strand I is a general subsidy for any disabled employer working between 21 and 39 hours per week, and whose perceived productivity shortfall is in excess of 20% when compared to a non-disabled peer. The rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour and is based on the number of hours worked, giving a total annual subsidy available of €10,748 per year based on 39-hour week.
- Strand II – Depending on the total number of disabled workers, their employer can apply for a grant to cover additional costs. This ranges from an additional 10% for 3-6 employees to a maximum of 50% of the wage subsidy for 23+ disabled employees.
- Strand III – where 30 or more disabled people are employed, employers can avail of a grant of €30,000 per year. This grant assists with the cost of employing an Employment Assistance Officer.
Disability Awareness Support Scheme
The final Government support falls outside the Reasonable Accommodation Fund. But it can be a very useful support in integrating people with disabilities into the workplace. This is available to private sector companies who are interested in employing or retaining or people with disabilities, and fund up to 90% of costs, and up to 80% of costs in subsequent years of up to €20,000 for providing disability awareness training, with additional funding available for providing materials related to the training.