Happy Holidays, Employment & YOU readers!
The holidays can be a lot of fun, but they also present some unique challenges for new employees. Holiday pay, holiday hours, and navigating holiday parties are all topics that Autism Nova Scotia job coaches get questions about regularly. The following are the objectives of this blog post:
With these tips in mind, you can have a successful and enjoyable holiday season in the workplace.
My place of work is having a Holiday Party- should I go?
So why does your place of employment have Holiday Parties? Well, that is a good question. Firstly, the holidays are a time when people feel more charitable and would like to do something nice for their staff. Some workplaces will set aside an evening when they provide their employees a chance to relax and get to know each other outside of the work place.
There are some benefits to attending a Holiday Social:
A Holiday Social does have some positives, however, if you are still feeling anxious about it, it is ok to decline the invite and try again next year!
Holiday Hours/Holiday Pay
Holiday hours and pay vary wildly between workplaces. They depend on your employer, the industry you work in, and what your contract stipulates. For instance, someone working as a programmer for a tech company might have Remembrance Day off, whereas if you’re working at somewhere like Cineplex or Sobeys you may be required to work.
It is important to understand your employer’s specific position regarding holidays and holiday pay. This information should be provided to you in an employment contract. If you have a question about it, ask your employer. They will be happy to provide you with this information so you better understand their specific policies.
There are useful resources available to you through the Nova Scotia Labour Standard Code. You can access the code by clicking here. This code gives an overview of how holiday pay works, what is and is not covered by Labour Rules, and how these policies impact different roles.
If you have any questions about holiday hours and holiday pay, the Job Coaches at Autism Nova Scotia are here to help! They will help you find the information you’re looking for.
Why Should I Hire Inclusively?
The objectives of this blog are:
WHY should I hire inclusively: Ready, Willing and Able!
Across the country, there are important, valuable roles that do not get filled with the right people, or do not get filled at all. Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) is a national initiative committed to helping Canadian employers find ideal candidates who are readily equipped to enter the workplace. We have an untapped resource in unemployed and underemployed individuals with intellectual disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Nationwide, there are approximately 500,000 working age adults with intellectual disabilities or ASD, but only one in four are employed. Why is this? A lack of information, understanding and experience. (readywillingable.ca)
Ready, Willing and Able made it their mission to make workplaces across the country more inclusive. Sounds great, right? But as an employer, why bother? Surly it is just more stress!
Employees on the autism spectrum have been evaluated by their employers as consistently exhibiting the following:
• strong overall job performance
• great technical abilities
• high levels of accuracy
• acute attention to detail
• conscientiousness and diligence
• ability to work independently
When hired in positions that align with their interests, individuals with intellectual disabilities or ASD can truly excel, often exceeding employer expectations. The average turnover rate for employees across all industries is 49%. High turnover is an extremely costly reality in business: training new employees, covering missed shifts and getting new staff up to speed with experienced staff takes time and resources. In contrast, turnover rate for employees with intellectual disabilities or ASD is markedly lower, at just 7%. (readywillingable.ca)
Want more great news?
It’s more than the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
Hiring Inclusively does not cost you more as an employer! In fact, as proven above, hiring someone with ASD increases your productivity as most people with autism are rarely late to the job, are hardworking and are less likely to quit resulting in less turn over for the employer, which in turn, means less money spent on recruiting and training new staff. Win Win!
HOW can I hire inclusively?
Ready, Willing and Able can help employers to find the right person for the right job- it is all about fit!
Are you an employer? Want more information about how to hire inclusively? Please contact Brian Foster at email@example.com.
The objectives for today’s post are as follows:
Just like you, I didn’t know what a probation period meant for a long time. It wasn’t until I started working as a part-time manager for a fast food restaurant that I learned more information about Probationary Periods because one of my job responsibilities involved explaining our probationary period terms to new hires. Here is what I told a new employee about probationary period:
It is quite standard for there to be a set probation period when you start a new job—don’t panic!
A probation period can last 1, 2, 3, or even as long as 6 months. In the province of Nova Scotia 3 months is considered the norm. However, I have worked in jobs where the probation period has lasted for 6 months—still don’t panic!
If there is a probation period, the length of probation will be explained in your written work contract. Let’s talk about what other information you can expect to find in a written work contract during a probation period:
Why is it easier and cheaper for an employer to dismiss an employee during a probation period YOU ask?
This is because probationary employees have different legal rights than permanent employees. Basically if you are let go during your probation period the employer isn’t required to give you written notice or pay in lieu—the employer only needs to find the employee “unsuitable”. An employer can think you are “unsuitable” if for example you don’t produce high quality work, show up late most days, display a poor or negative attitude, be unprofessional, and so forth.
If your probation period isn’t going well the employer may decide to extend your probation period before terminating you. If this happens, the terms and length of the extended period of time will be decided by you and your employer. In the unfortunate event you are terminated during your probation period, the employer may ask you to leave immediately or ask you to work until the end of your probation.
If you are still working the day after your probation period ends you will automatically be considered a permanent employee. It is important to note that the employer will not meet with you or send you an email or letter informing you of this. Usually, nothing will be said to you.
Take a few minutes to look at the below examples from the Law Insider website (https://www.lawinsider.com). These are the different probationary clauses that you can expect to see in an employee contract. If you see similar clauses in your employment contract you will know what it means!
“Probationary Period: No probationary period applies.”
“Probationary Period. The first ninety (90) days of the Employment Term shall be considered Employee's probationary period. During the probationary period, the Company shall not provide any fringe benefits. If Employee's employment continues past the probationary period, the Company shall provide to Employee the same medical insurance coverage options and the same retirement or pension options that it offers its other non-probationary employees.”
“Probationary Period. The first 6 months of your employment is a probationary period and is subject to 1 months’ notice on either side, after confirmation of your employment the notice period in sections 12 and 13 will apply.”
“Probationary Period. There shall be a probationary period of thirty (30) calendar days for journeymen (sixty (60) days for apprentices), excluding shutdowns/layoffs, with the right to extend such probationary period by mutual agreement. A discharge during the probationary period shall not be subject to the grievance or arbitration provisions of this Agreement. Upon completion of the probationary period, the employee's seniority date shall be retroactive to his most recent date of hire.”
“Probationary Period. In the event your performance during the Probationary Period does not warrant the continuation of your employment, the Company may terminate your employment at the end of the Probationary Period without any notice or pay in lieu of notice. The Company will endeavor to provide you with an ongoing assessment of your performance. You may resign at any time during the Probationary Period without any notice.”
To view more examples, check out the website!
At some point during your career you will most likely accept a probationary employment contract. Don’t let this add extra, unnecessary stress. Act as if you already are a permanent employee and do your best, as this is what any employer will expect regardless if you are on probation or not.
You’ve done it! After hard work and dedication to the job hunt, you’ve finally landed your first job.
So now what? Now, you start working!
The first day in any new environment can be intimidating; however, following these helpful tips will allow you to navigate your first day in your new workplace with ease.
Paperwork goes hand-in-hand with your first day at work. Workplace safety documents, codes of conduct, direct deposit forms – the list goes on! You and your manager will sit down and go over these documents before you’re allowed to work.
Make sure you bring all the necessary ID cards and information with you. Your employer will most likely provide you with a list, but commonly items such as a void cheque, your social insurance number, etc. are required to finish paperwork.
During this process, pay attention and feel free to ask questions. It’s important that you understand your employers expectations of you.
For instance, if you’re curious about protocol if you’re sick, ask about it!
If you have any questions that you feel uncomfortable asking in-person, feel free to reach out to your job coach, employment agency, or the employment team at Autism Nova Scotia for details.
Watch, Listen and Ask Questions
Your first day will be full of new processes, tasks, and expectations. This is the opportunity for you to ask questions as they come up and get help from your trainer(s) if you need it.
Remember – you’re not expected to know everything right away. You were hired for what you can bring to the organization, not for knowing the job already.
Being attentive and curious during the training process on your first day will make you better prepared for your job and show your employer that you’re committed to being the best employee possible.
Meeting New People
The first day is all about getting used to your new workplace. This includes meeting your new co-workers and getting used to the people you’ll be working with. Your trainer will most likely introduce you to staff as you make your way around the workplace; take the opportunity to say hi and make a good impression.
For instance, when introducing yourself, you could say: “Hi, my name is _____ and I’ve been hired to _____.”
As you meet your new co-workers, learn about each of their roles and who may be helpful in the future. For instance, you may be working with people who have worked in your role already. They can be useful sources of information for best practices and can help you with any questions you may have if your trainer is not around.
It is important to remember that you are not expected to know how to do everything right away. It is okay if you need your trainer to go over something a few times until you’re familiar with a task or process.
Asking questions is a great way to get information and show you’re interested in your new role.
A Couple Other Suggestions…
Make sure your cellphone is put away, and turned off or on silent.
Ensure that you’re dressed appropriately; if you were given a uniform, wear it!
Learn your work environment to help build routines. Identify where the lunch room, bathrooms, office supply room, etc. are located.
You many start actual work on your first day – that’s okay! Sometimes learning by doing is the best way to get used to a job.
The objectives of this week’s blog are:
Last week’s blog explained the different responsibilities a Job Coach has on a work site and how they can help support a new employee. This week we will examine how a Job Coach is different to an Employment Support Practitioner (ESP)- an ESP works at your local employment agency. So, what exactly is the difference?
I asked a local ESP to explain her role and she said this:
The role of the Employment Support Practitioner is to provide support to clients who identify as having multi-barriers to employment. The support can range from assistance with pre-employment, on-the-job as well as post-employment including job-carving. The fact that the ESP case-load is smaller than that of a Job Developer allows the ESP to spend more one-on-one time with the client and to go at the pace set by the client. An ESP can work with a client anywhere from 3-months to a year depending on the needs of the client as well as a one-time intervention.
The ESP Intervention is based on the individualized needs of the client and, as such, can vary depending upon what those needs may be at any given time. An ESP is able to act as a go-between for the client and the employer (as long as the client has disclosed) or it can take the shape of providing off-site support to the client. Each client has different barriers and challenges so there is really no “typical” ESP client. In many respects, the ESP role is constantly evolving and changing as dictated by the various needs and supports of the client and by where they are in terms of employment. Whereas a Job Developer client may be more self-sufficient and ready “to hit the ground running” with respect to employment readiness, the ESP client may need much more pre-employment support or job-readiness skills.
What a great service coming out of our local employment agencies! If you feel this type of support would benefit you, please ensure that you are attached to one of the many employment agencies across the city. These agencies include YMCA Dartmouth, Halifax and Cole Harbour, Job Junction, Teamwork Cooperative etc. If you are confused about these agencies, feel free to contact our Employment Support Coordinator at Sheila.Pearson@autismns.ca for more information.
Autism Nova Scotia's Employment Support Coordinator also helps to support new employees and works closely with the Employment Support Practitioner on some jobs. A Job Coach will work 1:1 with an employee on the job for 8-12 weeks. Sometimes, after a Job Coach has transitioned away, an ESP will take over and provide support one a weekly basis. This ensures that support is on-going until the employee feels they no longer need the support and will be successful in long term employment.
Job Coaches and ESPs also work closely with employers. This is vitally important because it allows the Job Coach/ESP to understand what successes and challenges the employee may face when first new to a job. A Job Coach or ESP will discuss further with the employer how they, together, can help the employee be successful.
Whether you need 1:1 support on the job or occasional checks in for success, support is always vital when starting a new job.
The objectives for today’s post are as follows:
1. To define what a job coach does and the role of the job coach.
2. To explain the overall goal of the job coach.
3. To explain what outside of work job coach support is.
4. To provide information about the types of things you will see a job coach do.
Many job seekers I meet with during the Ready, Willing, & Able intake think a Job Coach is a person who will do the job for the employee. If this is what you thought too, you are incorrect.
On the work site, a Job Coach:
information that will help them do their best at the job.
When the employee is independently completing their job tasks, navigating their work environment, and has the necessary advocacy skills and strategies to ask for accommodations and adaptations to handle change in the work environment on their own, the Job Coach will transition away.The Job Coach usually works for 8-12 weeks on the job with the employee, slowly transitioning until the employee is completely independent.
The role of a Job Coach is diverse. First and foremost, a Job Coach supports the employee, however, Job Coaches are also required to understand the needs and expectations of the employer and become familiar with the work site and various job tasks involved with the employee’s job. The overall goal of a Job Coach is to ensure the employee gains independence within their job, advocates successfully for supports and utilizes natural supports that exists in their workplace.Natural Supports are people within the workplace with whom you can turn to for help and assistance when the Job Coach has faded from the job.
What will you see a Job Coach doing?
Here is what one job seeker has to say about receiving Job Coach support:
Having a Job Coach helped one job seeker “feel less anxious when I started working. I knew she would help me learn how to do my job properly, and gain confidence. She also helped me understand my supervisors' expectations and to become more comfortable communicating with co-workers. I was sad when she finished, but I knew I was ready.”
But what if you’re a job seeker who needs support, just not on the job? Autism Nova Scotia also offers 1:1 support outside the job provided by Autism Works or your Employment Agency. It is common for some employees to work with a Job Coach outside the work place to navigate the social situations of a workplace. For instance, a Job Coach working outside the job could work with the employee on knowing when to end a conversation, unwritten rules of a workplace or anything the employee feels they wish to improve upon.
Job Coaches who provide support outside the workplace are still required to understand the needs and expectations of the employer and become familiar with the work site environment and various tasks involved with the employee’s job. The Job Coach is also expected to ensure the employee gains independence within their job by applying the skills they are learning and teaching the job seeker when/where to recognize and use natural supports that exists in their workplace.
If you’re a job seeker who needs a Job Coach or a job seeker who requires support outside of the work place contact Sheila Pearson with Autism Works. Autism Works has a list of qualified, trained Job Coaches who can work 1:1 with an employee on or off the job. If you have been hired for a job and need a Job Coach contact Sheila Pearson at Sheila.Pearson@autismns.ca
Ready, Willing and Able strives to provide job supports for underemployed autistic individuals throughout Canada.
But what exactly does that mean?
Job supports vary greatly and differ between individuals because everyone is different!
There are three major types of job supports that job coaches and employment agencies can provide to autistic individuals:
Adaptations refer to changing something within the workplace so the employee is supported in a more inclusive environment.
For instance, it might be necessary for a job coach to shadow the employee and then write down the “unwritten rules” of the workplace for the individual to better understand the social norms of their environment. This can extend to alterations to the employer’s training process itself, such as adapting the training manual to break down the information visually.
These changes relate to the accessibility of the workplace. Making changes to the physical environment and how the employee relates to that environment allows them to better adapt to their new job.
Many individuals on the spectrum require routine to succeed in the workplace. Others have difficulty with certain motor skills or time management/organization skills. This is where accommodations such as physical supports and tools can be identified and implemented by the job coach and employer.
For instance, an individual with autism may be tasked with cleaning the lobby of a restaurant. They require the use of a broom to sweep the floors and a cloth to wipe down tables. However, this individual is used to a certain type of broom and has difficulty using other brooms. While on-site or in follow-up discussions with the client, a job coach would be able to identify this hurdle and prompt the employee to address it with the employer to provide them with a broom they’re used to using.
This is only one example, but accommodations refer to any support that can be provided in the workplace by the employer and/or job coach that allow the employee to succeed and accomplish their tasks.
Developing healthy relationships in the workplace is one of the most important supports that a job coach and employer can provide for their autistic employee. More often than not, a friendly face who is willing to answer questions makes the difference between a successful and failed transition into a working environment.
Support from colleagues, supervisors, and other staff members at every level of the organization will help an employee with autism feel comfortable in their new work environment.
Ensuring natural supports exist outside of the workplace can benefit an autistic employee as well. Continued support from family, friends, employment agencies, and job coaches guarantees that the employee will have a person to turn to with any difficulties or problems they might be facing. This is why RWA job coaches continue to offer support to their clients following their successful transition into a workplace environment.
These internal and external supports can reduce employee turnover and increase quality of life for the autistic individual.
Job coaches will not be around forever. That is why one of the most significant supports that we provide is teaching the employee to advocate for themselves in the workplace.
For instance, instead of raising a question or issue with a job coach, the employee learns to approach the employer directly.
Self-advocacy promotes independence is all aspects of daily life and is a crucial skill to learn to enjoy a healthy workplace environment.
What is Employment Support?
The objectives of the below blog are as follows:
1:1 Job Coaches- Autism Works has a roster of qualified, Autism trained Job Coaches who can work 1:1 with a new employee on the job. The Job Coach does not complete the work for the employee, but instead assists in implementing accommodations and adaptations to help the employee do the job. This could be in the form of checklists, timers, visual aids etc. They also help the employee to self advocate for their needs in the workplace. Often it is difficult, especially if it is your first job, to know when and what to say to your manager if you require assistance, vacation time, or a sick day. A Job Coach can help script/role play these incidents with you. Job Coaches also help to build natural supports. Natural supports are people within the workplace you can turn to for help and assistance when the Job Coach has transitioned from the job. The Job Coach usually works for 8-12 weeks on the job with the employee until they are completely independent.
1:1 support outside the job provided by Autism Works or your Employment Agency- Sometimes an employee can do the job without a Job Coach on-site but needs support to navigate the social situations of a workplace. For instance, a Job Coach working outside the job could work with the employee on knowing when to end a conversation, unwritten rules of a workplace or anything the employee feels they wish to improve upon. If the employee has disclosed to the employer, the Job Coach will also speak to them to ensure that everything is going smoothly on the job site. The meetings are usually once a week for an hour and can last for up to 2 months or 8 sessions.
Employment Support from your Employment Agency- Teamwork Cooperative, Opportunity Place and YMCA Employment Agencies have specific roles within their agencies called ‘Employment Support Practitioner’ (ESP). This role is beneficial if the employee needs a check in once or twice a week for 30 mins or so. If needed, the ESP can stay longer on the job as well. The ESP will also talk to the employer and ensure that the employee is performing in a successful way.
Support can also mean obtaining financial assistance to assist you in purchasing equipment needed for the job. For example, if your new job requires you to wear steel toe boats, Ready, Willing and Able can help you in buying this equipment.
Each type of Employment Support is equally important and can be the difference between maintaining or losing a job. Support on the job can be helpful to both employee and employer and help bridge the communication between the two. If you have recently secured a job opportunity OR are an employer eager to find out more about employment support in the workplace, feel free to contact the Employment Support Coordinator at Autism Nova Scotia for further information and consultation. She can be reached at Sheila.Pearson@autismns.ca.
This is a tough situation for any parent/guardian and honestly, there is no easy answer. Part of the solution is going to include your child, your guidance, and possibly the employer.
Remember, your reaction is going to influence your child. Therefore, it is just as important for you to remain solution focused and it is best to put your personal emotions to the side when speaking to your child about their employment concerns. I know this is hard for any parent to do, especially if you are your child’s main support source; but, keep in mind, you are providing support, just in a different, more empowering way now.
Talking to your child and learn what his/her concerns really are (maybe he/she just had a bad day-it happens!)
Next, list each concern and write them on paper.
Measure each concern. Is the concern easy to solve or more complex? Before doing this, determine and explain with your child what a simple concern is and what a more complex concern is-provide examples when you need too.
Decide, can my child solve this on their own? Do they require minimal support from me? Or do I as a parent need to help them more directly through teaching and guiding?
Depending on what the concerns are, teach your child problem solving steps and strategies. Some concerns will be easy to solve, while others may require you to guide your child to reach a successful outcome. For example:
For some concerns:
Follow-up with your child to see if the problem has been solved. If the problem hasn’t been solved find out from your child why – it is extremely important for you, as the parent not to reach out to the employer, and I like what one parent had to say about supporting their child while working in the community:
“This is a bit of a tricky question because there are so many things that have to be taken into effect to our children working in the community. My son has been bullied, set up by co-workers to look bad, and had questions asked about him that are strictly information gathering from fellow employees (one in particular). Our children are very trusting and naive in some instances and they can be taken advantage of very easily. I am very careful to not paint working as a negative in ANY light as my son can easily label the "entire" experience as negative instead of the one aspect. I always refer to any shortcomings as lessons that he will need to learn to deal with for years to come, as the same issues often creep up at other employment situations in any company. I always tell my son to report to his direct manager of situations that warrant attention. Often he will come home upset about a certain situation, I will talk him down, talk about possible solutions he can do with the next encounter or direct him to talk to management. Our kids often do well with simple emails to managers for the times that it is necessary. This also helps with a good paper trail for our kids, we can also monitor the outgoing email (proof reading so it sounds politically correct), and incoming of the managers email back to see if what is said is meant in a certain way or context. We often talk about results and intentions of others and himself. I do find that the biggest obstacle is educating fellow staff about our children's way of learning.”
In the unlikely event that your child needs further assistance than what you can provide or you would like to seek external advice about an employment situation you can reach out to an employment agency in your area such as TeamWork Cooperative, YMCA or Job Junction, or connect with Ready, Willing, & Able by emailing RWA@autismns.ca just like one parent did:
“My daughter’s employment recently ended. As her parent, I have been feeling quite unsettled about this and don’t know how best to support her, as I don’t feel I have a good grasp on the situation. I asked her about it but was not confident that she had all the details. I also was not confident that she was given the whole story. It somehow seems wrong that they brought her into a private space upon arrival, told her the job was ending immediately and sent her home right away without a chance to say goodbye to coworkers??
The only other thing I can think I could do would be to email a Ready, Willing, & Able staff member and try to set up a meeting. I understand privacy issues however I am the key support person for my daughter and I think it would be useful for her if I am in the know.” I feel very impotent about this and would love to hear some other ideas. I look forward to your feedback on this issue.”
When concerns come up during your child’s employment you may at times feel like you don’t know how to best support him or her; but remember, you are not alone. If you need to reach out to a family member or friend who can lend an ear to listen, then do so. If you need more family support you can also reach out to Autism Nova Scotia’s Family Support Coordinator, Jenny Tyler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picture yourself at your first job. Maybe you were working in the fast food or customer service industry. For the first time, you’re expressing your independence in a professional setting. You learned new skills, developed work relationships, and made money by yourself! These are essential skills that any individual needs to learn at some point in their life.
Now, imagine that your parent or caregiver walked in and started asking your boss how you’re performing in your new role.
Words cannot express the level of embarrassment that a teenager or young adult would feel at this prospect.
It’s a caregiver’s right to be curious about their child’s first job. This is doubly true for a child on the autism spectrum who may have struggled throughout their life with the social and work-related skills they are now developing. However, there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of learning about their work experiences.
So who do you ask?
Do you approach their case worker? Autism Nova Scotia? What about human resources, their supervisor, or even their job coach?
The answer to these suggestions is a clear and resounding NO.
If you want information about your child’s work experiences, you ask your CHILD.
Nobody can provide you with a clearer interpretation of your child’s experiences in the workplace than they can. Their strengths, weaknesses, and areas they would like to improve are all just a few questions away.
However, we do recognize that some teenagers and young adults, especially in the autistic community, have trouble relaying information to anyone, let alone their loved ones.
Here are a few useful hints that will help provide you with information you’re looking for:
If Executive Functioning makes it difficult for your child to answer those questions, contact the employment division of Autism Nova Scotia for continued support. Our team will be happy to work with you and your child to develop strategies that allow you to better understand their work experiences and what you can do as a caregiver to assist them.
Using one of the solutions suggested above will not only benefit you but it will ensure that you do not infringe upon your child’s newfound independence.