Employment and acquired brain injury

Our guide to taking the first steps into the world of work after an acquired brain injury.

Many young people will wish to look for work after they leave full-time education. Work comes in many shapes and sizes, and may range from volunteering to part-time work or vocational training positions.1

Employment can represent an opportunity for independence and individuality for any young person. Some young people may find the workplace a ‘better fit’ for them than school.2

But it’s a big step for any of us, and parents and young people may have concerns about how someone with an acquired brain injury might get on at their workplace.

There is support available for anyone with a disability or learning disability.3 Any role must take into account that individual’s skills and areas of difficulty.4

Disability employment advisors

The local Job Centre will be able to put you in touch with a disability employment advisor.

These advisors can carry out an assessment to help a young person identify what type of work or training is most suitable. They can refer people to a work psychologist, who can help them prepare to find work and stay in work when they’ve found it.

They can advise people about work programmes specifically for people with disabilities, or refer young people to other services. You can also give information about employers in the area who have adopted the ‘two ticks’ disability symbol.

This shows an employer has a positive attitude towards disabled people. 

Schemes and support

You can read more about any of the schemes outlined below at the Directgov site.

Access to Work3

Access to Work might contribute to the cost of a support worker, or the equipment someone needs at work.

It can also pay towards the cost of getting to and from work if public transport isn’t an option. Access to Work may be able to pay some or all of the costs of a communicator for interview situations.

Find out more.  

Work Choice

This scheme replaced Workstep, Work Preparation and the Job Introduction Scheme in October 2010.

Work Choice helps people with disabilities whose needs cannot be met through other work programmes. This might be because someone needs more specialised support in finding or keeping a job.

It’s a more tailored approach. Work Choice also gives employers support they may need in employing disabled people.

Specialist Employability Support

This scheme provides mentoring and training to help disabled people into work if other employment programmes can't be used.

Those who can’t get help from government programmes or schemes including Access to Work and Work Choice can apply for Specialist Employability Support.

Supported employment services

These services spend time getting to know a young person before they begin the search for full-time employment.

Young people may have an opportunity to try things out in order to establish what their strengths and interests are.

The British Association for Supported Employment (Base) has more information on the different agencies that provide this kind of service.

Remploy supports many thousands of people each year with a range of employment services. 

The Shaw Trust supports disabled and disadvantaged people (including those experiencing ill health) to prepare for and find work.

Discrimination when looking for work, or in the workplace

Disabled employees and jobseekers are legally protected against discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Young people looking for work or in work are legally entitled to fair treatment in issues of recruitment, promotion and pay. The act also means workplaces must be accessible to disabled people.


  1. Occupational Therapy in Vocational Rehabilitation: A Brief Guide to Current Practice in the UK (2nd Edition)(2009). The National Executive Committee of the College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section – Work.
  2. Baldwin T, Demellweek C, Rankin P, Carleton F (2006). Cognitive problems. In Appleton R, Baldwin T (Eds.), Management of Brain-injured Children (pp171-222). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. Directgov site: www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/Employmentsupport/index.htm
  4. Baldwin T, Demellweek C, Rankin P, Carleton F (2006). Cognitive problems. In Appleton R, Baldwin T (Eds.), Management of Brain-injured Children (pp171-222). Oxford: Oxford University Press.