Mainstream programmes - information for employers

If you’re an employer, you can support one of our disabled candidates into work through one of our Mainstream programmes. We may be able to help with wage subsidies, other funding and on-the-job support.

Our Mainstream programmes

We have 2 Mainstream programmes:

  • Mainstream Employment programme
  • Mainstream Internship programme

Mainstream Employment programme

If a client has a disability (including a mental health condition) and wants to work, they can join our Mainstream Employment programme. It can help them get paid work experience and a long-term job.

This programme runs for up to one year.

Mainstream Internship programme

If client's studying, or has studied in the last 12 months, and has a disability, they can join our Mainstream Internship programme.

It runs for 4-12 weeks and can give them an opportunity to work in a field related to their study.

How it works

Employment Service providers will work with you to find a suitable position for a candidate, depending on their skills and employment goals.

We’ll give you a wage subsidy and 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’s in.

If you hire them permanently after their placement finishes, let us know.

  • Who can place someone

    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 a permanent 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, talk with us.

  • What you can get

    Mainstream Employment programme

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

    • an 80% wage subsidy for the first 6 months
    • a 50% wage subsidy for the last 6 months
    • funding for:
      • training related to the candidate's role
      • specialist equipment for the candidate's disability.

    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

    If you place someone from the Mainstream Internship programme, you'll get a 100% wage subsidy while they’re on placement.

    Wage subsidies for the programmes

    We pay wage subsidies quarterly in advance.

    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 place someone

    Step 1 – Talk to an Employment Service provider

    If you’d like to offer a position to someone with a disability, email us 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. Then they’ll find a suitable candidate to place into the role.

    Step 2 – Complete hiring 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
    • the number of hours they’ll work
    • 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.

    Step 5 - We’ll process the documents

    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. If it’s 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.

  • While the candidate is on placement


    You’ll need to report quarterly 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 quarter.

    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.