A scheme is being launched to help people with disabilities and long-term health conditions return to work.
Unanimously approved by Tynwald last month, the Manx Reskill Scheme is based on the Manx Restart Scheme — an employment incentive programme introduced in October 2020 for those who lost work as a result of the pandemic — and will specifically target people who have not worked due to illness for at least one year.
The Manx Restart Scheme was successful in placing more than 180 individuals into roles with local employers, who could claim 70% of salary and employer’s National Insurance contributions (capped at the rate of Living Wage) for up to 12 months. Now closed to new entrants, the scheme continues to benefit the community as engaged employers continue to reclaim employment costs relating to placements which are already under way, and many placements have now led to sustained employment at the end of the 12 month supported period.
The Manx Reskill Scheme will see a slightly different approach with eligible employers being provided with a higher level of financial support at the outset. They will be able to claim 100% of salary costs for the first 6 months, 75% for months 7-9 and 50% of costs for months 10-12 (again capped at the rate of Living Wage).
Following the model established by the Manx Restart Scheme, Treasury will contract a local recruitment agency to provide initial pre-employment support and coaching to individuals, and to undertake the matching and on-boarding services. The agency will also co-ordinate ongoing support and mentoring throughout the supported employment period.
Employers may be able to access Isle of Man Government support for any adaptations or aids required to support the successful employment, as well as free training on Mental Health and Disability awareness.
Eligible individuals will benefit from an assessment conducted by the Isle of Man Government Occupational Health Service. Discussions will focus on the type of roles and sectors which might be suitable, along with any support that might help them transition and retain work. A report will be produced to share with the agency and their new employer, should they choose to do so.
Participation in the Manx Reskill scheme will be entirely voluntary. Benefit claimants will not suffer any detriment if they choose not to take part or if they withdraw after having enrolled.
Sarah Maltby MHK, Treasury Member with responsibility for Social Security, said:
‘The Manx Reskill Scheme is specifically aimed at supporting the employment of individuals who may find it more difficult to re-enter the workplace after a period of unemployment.
‘It will demonstrate collaborative working between individuals, employers, the Treasury, Occupational Health Service and an external recruitment agency, who will work together to support and enable the re-employment of people who have been out of work due to illness for some considerable time.
Mrs Maltby added:
‘As we know, long-term unemployment can lead to deteriorating mental and physical health so I am really keen to offer a scheme which puts the needs of these individuals first and allow employers an opportunity to access financial support as well as free training on Mental Health and Disability awareness.
‘It recognises that those with health conditions and disabilities have skills, talent and potential that are valued by our community and economy and, with the right role and appropriate support, are able to pursue successful careers.’
Further information, including application forms for employers and individuals, will follow in due course.