March 2021

4.2 Job Retention and Advancement

Summary of Directive

To describe the goods and services that clients can access to help retain competitive employment or advance in employment.

To describe the application process, eligibility requirements, and the provision of services for applicants who are already employed or who have firm job offers but who require employment supports.

To identify requirements for ODSP employment supports job retention funding.

To provide details about employer obligations to accommodate employees with disabilities and how they apply to the provision of ODSP employment supports.

Legislative Authority

Sections 32 (1), 33 (b) and (d) of the ODSP Act 1997
Section 4 (2) 6 of the Regulation

Intent of Policy

To ensure that clients are provided the workplace and community supports needed to retain a job and/or advance in employment.

To ensure that eligible applicants who are employed or who have firm job offers receive the employment supports they require as quickly as possible to ensure that they remain employed, in the case of employed applicants, or are able to accept employment in the case of applicants with firm job offers.

Application of Policy

Job Placement and Retention Stream:

Once clients have been placed in competitive employment for 13 cumulative weeks, service providers will receive funding to provide job retention supports to the client and/or the employer. The goal is to ensure the client is retained in the job for as long as possible or is able to move directly to another job. Where a client is unable to retain the job, the service provider will work with the client to identify more appropriate employment.

Retention-Only Stream:

There are two categories of clients under the retention-only stream provided all basic eligibility criteria are met (See Directive 2.1 Program Eligibility):

  • Employed applicants, including applicants who are self-employed, who are at risk of losing their job and/or experiencing difficulty performing the essential duties of their job or self-employment activities unless they are able to access disability-related work supports; and
  • Employed applicants who are seeking job advancement supports.

Applicants in both the above categories are eligible for job retention supports only.

Job Retention Supports

Clients will require different types and levels of support on the job. Employers often provide supports to employees during the normal course of business, though other employers may need assistance to provide the tools and supports that employees with disabilities may need to perform the job effectively and to create an inclusive and supportive workplace.

Where appropriate, ODSP employment supports may provide or fund the following retention supports:

  • job coaching and on-the-job supports (e.g., workplace behaviour, assisting the client to arrange community supports, etc.);
  • job accommodation support such as:
    • assisting the client with negotiating workplace supports;
    • assisting employers to identify and develop job accommodations; and
  • job monitoring and interventions to assist clients and employers if there are work performance issues.

For ODSP income support recipients, job retention supports may be provided on a regular or as needed basis, for up to a maximum of 33 consecutive months after job placement (i.e., 13 weeks of cumulative employment) or as the duration of retention-only stream clients. For non-income support clients, retention supports may be provided for a maximum of 15 consecutive months following job placement (i.e., 13 weeks of cumulative employment) or as the duration of retention-only stream clients.

Retention supports are intended to help the client maintain employment and, if necessary, identify when increased support and/or tools to perform the job are required. Job retention supports may involve direct assistance in the workplace, contact with clients over the phone, brief meetings/consultations with the employer, and supports for work-related activities outside the workplace.

The type of tools or supports required will depend on the client’s disability-related needs, personal preferences, job tasks, employer needs, and the availability of existing supports. Effective supports are designed with both employee and employer input.

Job Coaching

Job coaching is intended to assist the employee to function independently in competitive employment and to perform their job effectively. Job coaching also helps deal with work performance issues that may arise. This usually involves extensive liaison with both the employee and employer.

Clients may require job coaching when new work tasks are assigned or supports to help deal with personal issues that may affect work performance.

Service providers should develop a job retention plan with the client that includes the level of job coaching supports to be provided, an expected timeframe for job coaching and milestones that will be used to measure progress. The client should demonstrate a diminishing need for support.

Where the client is not making appropriate progress to independent competitive employment, the service provider should review the employment plan with the client and discuss alternatives.

Job Accommodations

Employers are required to provide necessary accommodations under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The service provider will consider the employer's ability to provide the required accommodations prior to providing funding.

Employers may be unaware of the various types of workplace tools and supports, or resources available to assist with a job accommodation solution (e.g., organizations providing disability supports, technical information such as the Job Accommodation Network, tax measures, etc.) The service provider should be knowledgeable of these resources and provide employers with this information.

Category 1: Employed Applicants at Risk of Job Loss

The applicant must be at risk of losing their employment and would be able to maintain employment with access to disability-related work supports to assist them to perform the essential duties of the job. Circumstances that would make an applicant eligible for retention supports from ODSP employment supports include the following:

  • The applicant requires disability-related work goods and/or services to assist them to perform the essential duties of the job to help them retain the job.
  • The applicant requires disability-related supports to help with sporadic attendance at their place of employment because of their disability to help prevent them from losing their job.
  • The applicant's current employment or self-employment is negatively affecting their disability.
  • The applicant's disability will eventually necessitate changing their job.
  • The applicant had to leave their former employment because of their disability and is at present employed in a capacity significantly below their previous level (e.g., reduced hours or reassigned job duties). In these cases, employment supports may be provided to assist in returning to full-time hours and/or resume previous job responsibilities.

Category 2: Employed Applicants Seeking Job Advancement

Service providers may use job retention funding to provide clients with job advancement supports.

Job advancement supports relate to an individual's ability to advance within or between jobs and include activities such as learning additional duties, pursuing opportunities for promotion, exploring other job opportunities using transferable skills and experience, and job skills upgrading.

Service providers may provide job advancement supports to clients who are already working but who are "under employed" based on their skills, experience and the needs of the local labour market.

Application Process for Employed Applicants

The application process for employed applicants and applicants with firm job offers differs depending upon whether the applicant is a former client of ODSP employment supports, or if they are a new applicant.

New Applicants

The application process for new applicants is similar to the process for all other applicants. Employed applicants and applicants with job offers must satisfy all eligibility criteria for employment supports. However, they are not required to participate in the Employment Information Session unless ODSP staff and/or the applicant believe it is absolutely necessary. The goal is to ensure the applicant can access the supports needed in a timely manner so that they can stay employed or accept the job offer. Service providers will develop streamlined procedures for these applicants, especially for applicants at immediate risk of losing their job.

In many cases, employed applicants and applicants with firm job offers who are determined to be eligible, may only require a one-time support in order to obtain or maintain the employment. In those situations, regional office staff may directly provide the necessary good/service to the applicant. These applicants should not be referred to a service provider. The Welcome to ODSP Employment Supports form must be completed by these applicants who do not require the services of a service provider.

Applicants Who Were Former Employment Supports Clients

Employed applicants and applicants with job offers who were previously receiving employment supports may be eligible for employment supports again.

If the applicant is no longer eligible to receive job retention supports/services from the service provider who originally found the job placement, the applicant should be treated as all other new applicants, as described above.

If the applicant's previous job placement ended less than 33 months prior to the re-application (15 months for non-ODSP income support recipients), there is an expectation that the original service provider will continue to provide job retention supports to the person. Generally, people are eligible for job retention services for the periods described above. This includes providing supports to people who are experiencing job crisis and at risk of losing their job.

ODSP staff should assist the applicant to reconnect with the original service provider. However, in some circumstances, the relationship between the applicant and the original service provider may no longer be appropriate and ODSP staff must decide if it is in the best interest of both parties if the applicant selects another service provider.

Applicants with Firm Job Offers Requiring One-time Supports to Accept or Keep a Job

Applicants who have firm job offers but who may need a particular good or service (e.g., work equipment or tools, a workplace accommodation, etc.) to accept the job offer may also be eligible for employment supports if they meet all eligibility criteria.

(See Directive 2.1 Program Eligibility and Directive 5.1 Employment Supports Funding)

Employer Obligation to Accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code

Service providers must be familiar with employer obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Before providing goods or services to a person who is employed, the service provider should determine whether the employer is able and willing to meet their obligation to accommodate the employee under the Ontario Human Rights Code and provide the identified good and/or service. Employers have obligations to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code, unless the needs of the employee cannot be accommodated without undue hardship to the employer.

It is recognized that some employers (e.g., small business owner or non-profit organization) may require assistance to provide accommodations.

If the employer indicates that they are unable or unwilling to accommodate, the client and/or service provider should attempt to negotiate a solution that is acceptable to all parties. This could include sharing the costs of the accommodation between the employer and the service provider.

If the employer indicates they are unwilling or unable to accommodate and no other solution is identified, the service provider can provide for the accommodation to the client.

While it is recognized that an employer cannot be made to indicate in writing that they are unwilling or unable to accommodate, the request should be made to the employer to provide a letter to that effect. Whether or not the employer provides a letter, the service provider will make an appropriate notation in the client file to demonstrate the rationale for the decision to provide the employment support(s).

Once it has been determined what, if any, accommodations will be provided and maintained by the employer, the service provider will finalize the employment plan and the client will receive the supports.


Accommodation items provided through ODSP employment supports belong to the client, not the employer, should the employee leave the employment.

Where a client is requesting an on-going accommodation and the employer will not commit to providing or maintaining the required accommodations, the client should be encouraged to begin working on a revised employment plan and the service provider should work with the client to secure an alternative, more appropriate job placement.

Related Directives

2.1 Program Eligibility
3.1 Client Pathway
4.3 Exceptional Work-Related Disability Supports
5.1 Employment Supports Funding
6.4 Performance Measures and Information Reporting
6.5 Workplace Accident Insurance Coverage