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Question: What is Customized Employment?
Question: Is Customized Employment real employment?
Answer: Customized Employment is a process
for individualizing the employment relationship between a job seeker
or an employee and an employer in ways that meet the needs of both.
It is based on a match between the unique strengths, needs, and interests
of the job candidate with a disability, and the identified business
needs of the employer or the self-employment business chosen by the
candidate. This is a business deal.
Answer: Yes-Customized employment is real
work. It is based on identifying tasks that an employer needs done to
effectively conduct his or her business and matching those to the job
candidate’s abilities and interests. The 21st Century workplace
cannot be thought of in the same terms as that of the preceding century.
The emerging global economy is creating jobs that can't be accomplished
under the old 9 to 5 model or don’t necessarily need to be performed
in the employer’s workplace. Further, workers are demanding more
autonomy, more freedom, more customization of the terms and conditions
of their employment. The world of work is changing to merge the demands
of the new workplace and the needs of the workforce. One approach that
has emerged is customized employment.
Question: What is the Customized Employment
Answer: Customized employment starts with
the development of an employment plan based on an individualized determination
of the strengths, needs and interests of the job candidate with a disability.
Once the candidate’s goals are established, one or more potential
employers are identified. A preliminary proposal for presentation to
the employer is developed. The proposal is presented to an employer
who agrees to negotiate an individualized job that meets the employment
needs of the applicant and real business needs of the employer. Participation
in this process by an employer is always voluntary. If the individual
has chosen self- employment, the job description would be for the role
he or she would play in the business, based on a review of job descriptions
of persons already doing that job or similar work, if available. A personal
agent or a job developer usually develops the plan, assists the job
candidate throughout the process and provides follow up services when
Question: How does the personal agent or job
developer determine the needs of the individual?
Answer: Conducting an individualized assessment
involves listening to the person with a disability describe his or her
experiences, interests and abilities. Through understanding the person,
the personal agent or job developer can determine potential employment
goals. For example, Mr. X dreams about working in the medical field
like a majority of his relatives. They wear white coats and Mr. X wants
to wear one also. A job in a hospital transporting patients might be
appropriate. The individual assessment will lead to the identification
of a set of tasks the person can perform that are the raw materials
of a customized job description. The tasks, and employer research performed
by the personal agent or job developer, become the basis for developing
a proposal to be presented in negotiations with an employer. The applicant
must agree with the terms of the proposal.
Question: How do you identify potential employers?
Answer: Potential employers can be identified
by looking for a match between the job candidate's expressed interests
and skills and the nature of an employer's business. The person with
a disability should be asked about employers he or she knows and those
family, friends and neighbors know. Other employers can be identified
through the business section of the local paper, local business associations
or through community knowledge of the job developer. The initial survey
of potential employers should be broad and include any employer who
might have one or more of the proposed tasks performed or needed in
their business or who might have a suitable environment for the candidate.
Question: What is involved in voluntary negotiations?
Answer: Once an employer has agreed to discuss
an individualized job description for the candidate, the agent or developer
will present the job proposal. The job proposal must include a task
or tasks that the employer recognizes as adding value to his or her
business. The employer may accept the proposal, discuss modifications
to it, or reject it. If the original proposal is not accepted, a discussion
with the employer may result in a different job description that is
satisfactory to both the employer and the applicant. If no agreement
can be reached, the agent or job developer should consider approaching
other employers. Negotiation strategies may include job carving, self-employment,
or other job development or restructuring strategies. Customized employment
assumes the provision of reasonable accommodations and supports necessary
for the individual to perform the functions of the negotiated job.
Question: What is a customized job?
Answer: A customized job is a set of tasks
that differ from the employer’s standard job descriptions but
are based on tasks that are found within that workplace. A customized
proposal unties the tasks that exist in a workplace and makes them available
to be rearranged in a customized job description. For example, the customized
job may include only a subset of the tasks from one of the employer’s
job descriptions or a mix of tasks taken from several existing job descriptions.
It may include new tasks that are not currently being performed but
that fill a need for the employer. The customizing process often causes
the employer to think of existing tasks in a new way. For self-employment,
the customized job would be based on tasks to be performed by the individual
in the business, including any accommodations or disability-related
assistance the individual may need.
Question: How are customized job descriptions
Answer: There are several ways to customize
a job description:
- Carving a job. Creation of a job description based on tasks
derived from a single traditional job in an employment setting. The
carved job description contains one or more, but not all, of the tasks
from the original job description.
Example: The individual assessment showed that the individual
has skills to do filing and he has a strong desire to be a police
officer. To meet both the individual's needs and employer's needs
a carved job was negotiated within a county sheriff's department
that incorporates tasks of organizing and filing misdemeanor arrest
reports and traffic citations.
- Negotiated job description. A negotiated job description
is one in which all the tasks of the work setting (tasks contained
in more then one job description) are available for selection to form
a new, individualized job description.
Example: After working in a crew doing evening janitorial work,
a worker told his crew director that he wanted a job where he
could wear nice clothes, didn't have to clean after other people,
and could work around other people. He liked people but never
got to see them in his current job. A job working in a department
negotiated for the individual that combined duties from several
departments. Only one part of the job involves maintenance and
support activities. Additional duties involve helping the advertising
department put up and take down the huge number of weekly ads,
helping the furniture department manager rearrange the furniture
department, uncrating merchandise in the electronics department
and loading merchandise in cars for people at the stock room pick
- Created job description. A created job description is negotiated
from unmet needs in the employer’s workplace. This leads to
a new job description based on unmet needs of the employment setting
or based on the self-employment business chosen by the individual.
Example: An individual who is a wheelchair user enjoys people
and wants to perform delivery tasks. A branch office manager of
an insurance company was receiving frequent complaints that faxes
were not being delivered to agents in a timely manner by the fax
room clerk. Agents needed the faxes pulled from the fax machine
and hand delivered promptly. The job description for the clerk
in the fax room involved copying, mailroom responsibilities,
and handling the fax machine. Carrying out those responsibilities
did not leave time to hand deliver the faxes. The individual was
able to meet this genuine employer need through a created job
description for delivering the faxes.
Example: A college was having problems with the vending company
that serviced its coffee machines. The coffee cups would turn
upside down and the coffee would go into the drain. The vendor
removed the machines, resulting in complaints from students about
the lack of coffee service. Through negotiation with the college,
a micro business operated by a person with a disability was established,
consisting of a coffee and cookie sales cart.
Question: Is it necessary to reveal the individual's
disability during negotiations?
Answer: It is helpful, but not essential,
since one of the main ingredients in customized employment is negotiation.
Voluntary disclosure, authorized by the job candidate, allows the employer
to understand why the job developer may want to customize a job description
on behalf of an individual. The disclosure must be a voluntarily act
by the job candidate, who must give clear authority to disclose the
disability during the negotiations with employers. The permission should
be in writing. This guidance is limited to the implementation of customized
If you have any questions about this factsheet, please contact: Katherine
Information for this FAQ sheet came from T-TAP: Training and Technical
Assistance For Providers; Michael Callahan, Marc Gold and Associates;
and the Office of Disability Employment
Policy (ODEP). For additional information, contact ODEP at (202) 693-7880.