Hiring A Person With A Developmental Disability- FAQ

As an employer, you may have questions and perhaps some concerns about hiring a person with a developmental disability. The following information may help you to understand where to begin. Our goal is to provide our participants with opportunities to become more involved in empowering themselves to acquire maximum independence in all aspects of their lives. Supported employment is one way in which people become more independent, as well as making a positive personal contribution to society.

What is a developmental disability?
This term is used to describe people with a disability who have difficulty learning, and need assistance to carry out the practical and social activities of daily living.

What should I expect from an employee with a developmental disability?
Employers ask all the time about what it would be like to have a person with a developmental disability working for them. Like anyone else, people with developmental disabilities have strengths and weaknesses, talents, and abilities. These talents may surprise you and can include things you would find beneficial to your workplace such as people skills, ‘hands-on’ skills, strong motivation for work, and even experience and interest in your line of work. There is someone in your community with a developmental disability who has just the skills you are looking for to enhance your business.

What do I have to offer?
You may think at first that there are no jobs at your workplace for someone with a developmental disability. Take a look around. Ask your managers to list the things that they need done and do not have time to do, or that take time away from more skilled employees. The possibilities are endless and, you don’t have to work this out alone. If you are not sure how a person with a developmental disability can fit into your business, call us. We can give you a realistic idea about the jobs that someone can do for you.

I can’t offer a full time job- does that mean I can’t participate?
Not at all! A part-time job is exactly what many people with developmental disabilities are looking for. In fact, part-time employment may be the best way for an employee to train and master the skills they need for your business. As more skills are learned and mastered, more hours can be added. Job sharing, seasonal and summer employment are possibilities as well.

Can I try this on a trial basis?
Absolutely! Most employers tell us that they know within a couple of weeks whether a new employee will work out. Why not offer a temporary job with the aim of finding someone who will work out in the long run? Often a business’ best employees start out on a temporary, seasonal or contract basis.

How will this affect my other employees?
Most of the time, other employees appreciate the work a person with a developmental disability performs. Many co-workers tell us that working alongside a person with a developmental disability has enhanced their teamwork and their workplace. If your employees resist the idea initially, it’s usually because they have no idea what to expect. We can help you address this issue.

What about accommodating special needs?
If you think about it, you are accommodating the individual needs of employees all the time. This may range from providing hand rests for staff using computers, to flex time programs, to providing task lists, to simply helping a co-worker with physical tasks that they are not strong enough to do. Most of the time, making accommodations for someone is simple and does not cost your business anything at all. If necessary, there are grants available for workplace modifications or assistive technologies. Ask us for more information.

Will I have support?
Absolutely! Did you know that if you decide to hire someone with a developmental disability a “job coach” is available to help you or your staff train the person? As your new employees learn the skills they need to do the job, the job coach fades out of the picture. If you need your employee to learn new skills later on, a phone call is all it takes to bring the job coach back to the worksite. Whether the support is needed two weeks, two months, two years or even on an ongoing basis, this resource is always there for you.

What about liability?
As a responsible employer, you are already providing a healthy and safe workplace, and your business has Workers Compensation and general insurance coverage. Hiring someone with a developmental disability does not increase your liability. Peak Support Services promotes open and honest communication between employers and employees. If there is a medical condition or anything else that could affect health and safety on the job, then you need to know about it, just as you would with any other employee.

How will this benefit my business?
Many employers are finding it hard to find reliable, long term, entry-level employees. People with developmental disabilities are a labour source that is vastly underutilized by most industries and businesses. Many business people tell us that their customers strongly approve of their hiring an employee with a developmental disability. Your customers will respect you for it.

If you want to explore this further, please contact Angie Smith: asmith@peaksupportservices.org 403-381-1125 Extension 2