Mainstream programmes - information for employers

If you're an employer, you can support someone with a disability or health condition, including mental health and neurodiversity, into work through one of our Mainstream programmes. We may be able to help by paying wage subsidies, other funding and on-the-job support.

  • How it works

    An Employment Service provider will work with your organisation to find a suitable placement for a candidate, depending on their skills and employment goals.

    We'll give you either a partial or full wage subsidy, funding for training and equipment, as well as on-the-job support. The type of funding and how much we'll pay depends on what programme the client is in.

    If you decide to hire the client permanently after their placement finishes, let us know.

  • Which organisations can take part

    When we look to place someone in your organisation, we'll check:

    • how many people are in your organisation
    • whether it's safe and suitable for the candidate
    • the wages are the same as what you would pay other people doing similar work
    • the candidate will work between 15-40 hours a week.

    We'll also look at whether you have:

    • experience employing and supporting a range of employees
    • established HR policies and procedures
    • practical experience to work through performance issues, disputes or other issues
    • opportunities for the candidate to get an ongoing job once the placement finishes.

    In most cases, we can only fund one candidate from a Mainstream programme at a time. If you want to place more than one candidate, email us at mainstream@msd.govt.nz

  • What our Mainstream programmes offer

    These programmes support people with disabilities or health conditions, including mental health and neurodiversity, to get paid work experience. Ideally the client would also get the chance to stay on in an ongoing role after their placement, if you decide to offer this to them.

    There are three Mainstream programmes:

    Mainstream Employment programme

    This programme runs for up to one year. It's for clients who are getting a main benefit from us, and have a disability or health condition which significantly affects their ability to find work, which they need extra financial support for.

    If you place someone from the Mainstream Employment programme, you'll get:

    • an 80% wage subsidy for the first six months
    • a 50% wage subsidy for the last six months
    • funding for:
      • training outside of work that's not usually provided to other employees
      • specialised equipment if the client needs it because of their disability
      • other assistance related to the client's disability, eg. transport.

    We'll pay you back for any training or specialist equipment the candidate may need. This needs to be agreed to in the contract before the placement starts. If we pay for any specialist equipment, it will belong to the candidate. This means they can take it with them when their placement ends.

    Mainstream Internship programme

    This programme runs for up to 12 weeks. It's for Be.Lab clients who are in their last two years of study, or have finished full-time study in the last 12 months. The internships will give the client an opportunity to work in a field related to their study.

    If you place someone in the Mainstream Internship Programme, we'll pay the client's full wages to you while the client is on placement.

    Mainstream Paid Work Experience programme:

    This programme runs for up to 16 weeks. It's for Be.Lab clients who are starting work in an industry they haven't worked in before.

    If you place someone in the Mainstream Paid Work Experience Programme, we'll pay the client's full wages to you while the client is on placement.

  • Wage subsidies for the programmes

    We pay wage subsidies quarterly in advance.

    Wage subsidies don't cover:

    • ACC levies
    • Kiwisaver contributions
    • holiday pay, or
    • other employer costs.

    Wage subsidies can't be paid for:

    • teachers or teachers' aides who don't work during school holidays
    • placements where the candidate would be paid on commission
    • placements where other people doing similar roles are volunteers or have minimum wage exemptions.
  • How to join Mainstream

    Step 1 - Talk to an Employment Service provider

    If youd like to offer a position to someone with a disability or health condition including mental health and neurodiversity, email us at mainstream@msd.govt.nz

    We'll put you in touch with an Employment Service provider in your area. They'll talk with you about your business and the role you have available, and find a suitable candidate to place into the role.

    Step 2 - Complete placement process

    You'll meet with the candidate and interview them for the position.

    You need to use your usual processes for employing people. Mainstream placements can't replace or displace someone who already works for you.

    If you want to offer the position to the candidate, let the Employment Service provider know.

    Step 3 - Create an employee development plan

    You'll work with the Employment Service provider and the candidate to create an employee development plan. This will outline things like:

    • How you'll support the candidate to develop in the role.
    • Tasks details and outcomes.
    • Progression throughout the placement.
    • Any training they may need.

    Step 4 - Fill out an application form

    The provider will ask you and the candidate to fill out and sign an application form.

    They'll send the form and the employee development plan to us, along with any other documents we need, eg quotes for training or equipment. A list of these documents will be in the application form.

    Step 5 - We'll process the application

    When we process the application form, we'll check that you and the candidate meet the criteria.

    Once we've processed the form, we'll let the provider know the outcome and they'll contact you and the candidate. If its approved, they'll tell you all the details for the placement, eg when it will start.

    Step 6 - Sign a contract

    We'll draft a contract that will outline things like:

    • the amount of wage subsidy we'll pay you
    • any equipment or training we agree to
    • the candidate's start date
    • the number of hours the candidate will work (their hours can slowly increase as they train and gain more experience)
    • your reporting requirements
    • when you need to invoice us.

    We'll email the contract to you and you'll need to sign it and email it back to us.

  • During the placement

    Reporting on the candidate's progress

    You'll need to report every three months on the progress the candidate's made and hours they've worked each week. We'll email you a report template and you can fill it out and email it back to us every three months.

    Performance issues

    For managing performance issues, you need to use your normal processes. You can also check out Employment NZ's website for information on expert employment advice.

    Placement ends early

    If the placement ends before the contract finishes, we may ask you to refund some of the wage subsidy we've paid to you. You'll need to refund the amount of subsidy for the time the candidate hasn't worked.

    We'll work with you to come to an agreement on the amount.