December 2016

7.4: Employment and Participation Benefits

Legislative Authority

Section 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 of the Act.

Sections 49, 55 and 59 of Regulation 134/98.

Audit Requirements

Adequate documentation is on file to support decisions and type of benefit issued including receipts, other documentation and/or verification to support payment for expenses that occur during employment, and participation in employment assistance activities.

Application of Policy

Ontario Works mandatory and discretionary employment benefits, as part of basic financial assistance, are provided to participants if the Administrator is satisfied that eligibility criteria have been met.

In addition to these benefits, funds to cover employment related expenses may be provided to support participants as they progress toward sustainable employment.

Administrators in First Nations and northern communities have the discretion to exercise flexibility when approving employment activities and/or expenses based on cultural and geographic considerations in order to support employment outcomes for clients.

Mandatory Benefits

Full-time Employment Benefit

The Full-time Employment Benefit (FTEB) is provided to a recipient, a spouse included in the benefit unit or a dependent adult to help with expenses associated with beginning full-time employment. The benefit may be paid in one or more installments, up to the maximum in any 12-month period.

The maximum amount that may be provided through the FTEB is up to $500 in a 12-month period for each eligible recipient.

Recipients are eligible for this benefit if they meet the following criteria:

  • have been on social assistance for three consecutive months; and
  • are beginning full-time employment and require assistance with the costs of going to work.

Beginning full-time employment means working 30 or more hours per week in one or more jobs.

Receipts, other documentation or verification for expenses associated with accepting or changing employment or an employment assistance activity should be visually verified, and documented in the verification pages in the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS). For First Nations, verification and documentation of costs are noted in file systems.

A participant who is self-employed is not eligible for the FTEB.

Other Employment and Employment Assistance Activities Benefit

The Other Employment and Employment Assistance Activities Benefit is provided to a recipient, a spouse in the benefit unit, a dependent adult not attending secondary school full-time or a training program, or a dependent child who has graduated from secondary school. This benefit is provided to assist with costs associated with beginning or changing employment or an employment assistance activity.

Recipients are eligible for this benefit if they are:

  • beginning or changing participation in employment assistance activities, which means
  • beginning a new training program with different duties and responsibilities, or shifting from job training to work experience; or
  • beginning or changing employment with a current or new employer where the duties and responsibilities are substantially different than the previous job.

Expenses associated with accepting or changing either employment or an employment assistance activity, including a training program, include but are not limited to, the following:

  • appropriate work wear;
  • grooming costs;
  • licensing fees, association costs;
  • tools and equipment;
  • transportation costs.

The maximum amount that may be provided for each eligible recipient of this benefit is up to $253 in a 12-month period.

If a portion of the $253 was issued to the recipient during the 12 months, the balance may be issued at any time in the 12-month period following the original payment.

For example, a person works in a factory on an assembly line and changes position from the Assembly Line Worker to an Office Administrator after three months and more formal clothes are required. The original job required work boots. The work boots cost $75; the balance of up to $178 of the total of $253 in the 12-month period may be used to purchase more formal clothes for the new position of Office Administrator. The outstanding balance up to $253 may be paid any time in the 12 months following the original payment.

Advance (Up Front) Child Care Payment

An advance (up front) child care payment may be provided to a recipient, a spouse included in the benefit unit, a dependent adult or a dependent child with a dependent child if in the opinion of the Administrator the person is required to pay in advance for child care that is necessary to permit employment or an employment assistance activity.

The advance child care payment can be issued up to the following maximum amount in any 12-month period:

  • actual costs for licensed child care under the Child Care and Early Years Act; or
  • up to $600 for unlicensed (informal) child care costs.

Discretionary Benefit

Vocational Training

The Administrator may approve costs for vocational training as a discretionary benefit if the costs do not meet the parameters of training under ERE (i.e., training for short period of time). Vocational training refers to costs related to instruction in the skills and knowledge required to obtain employment in a prescribed vocation, such as courses offered through private career colleges. Any training approved for assistance through vocational training must be job specific and connected to a job available in the local labour market. Out of pocket expenses associated with participation in vocational training should be provided as ERE.

Costs for vocational training may also be approved as a discretionary benefit in situations where a delivery agent’s total employment assistance budget has been depleted.

Employment-Related Expenses

Employment-related expenses are provided to support participants as they progress toward sustainable employment.

Employment-related expenses are also available for ODSP recipients who are participating in Ontario Works employment assistance activities.

Where a participant is eligible for the mandatory Other Employment and Employment Assistance Activities Benefit, that benefit is accessed first.

Payments may cover out-of-pocket expenses associated with participation in employment assistance activities, including, but not limited to:

  • necessary transportation;
  • clothing, grooming, and special equipment;
  • safety equipment;
  • supplies and equipment;
  • protective clothing;
  • telephone expenses;
  • criminal reference checks or medical examinations and certificates (where required as a condition of job referral or community placements);
  • costs associated with obtaining a Pardon (for the removal of a criminal record) where the criminal record may be a barrier to employment;
  • minor fees (e.g., certification charges, short training costs);
  • child care costs to make participation in employment possible.

The maximum average that is provided for each eligible participant is $250 per month, with a maximum advance of $500. Employment-related expenses related to child care costs are accounted for separately.

The Administrator’s approval is required for expenses above the maximum average, with consideration given to the necessity of the item to support the participant’s progress toward sustainable employment.

Expenses incurred under the Other Employment and Employment Assistance Activities Benefit are documented on file to support the reasonableness of any additional assistance issued.

Supports to Persons with Disabilities

The needs of persons with disabilities who require more extensive supports are met through the ODSP employment supports.

Technical aids or devices to support access to Ontario Works employment assistance activities should be provided for ODSP recipients who wish to voluntarily participate in Ontario Works.

The cost of the technical aid or device is not considered an employment-related expense if it is available through the Assistive Devices Program of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (e.g., reader, interpreter, or low vision aid) (see Directive 7.8: Assistive Devices for more information).

Child Care Assistance

Administrators may provide assistance towards child care expenses for parents participating in employment assistance activities.

Participants can be reimbursed for the actual cost of licensed child care if paid for by the participant. Participants can also be reimbursed for the cost of informal or alternative child care (e.g., summer camp, supervised homework programs, etc.) up to the established maximum of $600 per month per child.

Payments for informal child care may not be made to a person who has a legal obligation to support the child, or to a member of the benefit unit, including:

  • the child’s parent;
  • the child’s sibling who is under age 18 and lives with the recipient; or
  • a dependent adult that is part of the benefit unit.

Where a participant has earnings from employment, the costs of child care for both licensed and informal child care may be deducted from earned income (see Directive 5.4: Child Care Deductions for more information). Where the costs of child care are equal to earnings, a child care subsidy may be provided.

Child care expenses should be visually verified and documented in SAMS. First Nations should visually verify and document child care expenses in their file systems.

In situations where an advance child care payment is reasonably necessary to permit a participant to begin, change, or continue in employment or an employment assistance activity, an advance payment can be issued.