Program Management

Employment Status Models


Employment status refers to your social enterprise’s decisions regarding duration and hours of employment for workers from the target population. In this learning guide we cover the rationale, considerations, and implications for five common models: full-time, part-time, on-call, permanent, and temporary employment.



A social enterprise may choose this model if they are trying to maximize the earnings of their employees. It may also make sense if per-employee costs such as hiring, on-boarding, or benefits are high.

There are challenges with this model. It may be challenging for full-time employees to access employee supports, unless they are integrated with employment. The social enterprise may need to make generous allowances for time-off to accommodate full-time employees with external demands (court appointments, treatment, etc.). The social enterprise will need to schedule employee support program staff around employee availability. Full-time employees will likely resist transition to external employment that is less than full-time.



This model might make sense if your social enterprise is trying to balance interests in:

  • Employing large numbers
  • Ensuring employees have sufficient time to participate in ESP activities
  • Guaranteeing employees some level of income

In particular, this model might be appropriate if you are aware that your target population has significant other demands on their time (treatment, court appointments, etc.). Additionally, it makes sense if you know that your target population will lose eligibility for a specific benefit if they exceed some number of hours or income.

In this model, most part-time employees should have time to access employee supports outside of their social enterprise work day. Depending on wage levels, part-time employees are likely to qualify for ongoing public assistance. Social enterprise staff should familiarize themselves with relevant benefit regulations and try to identify key contacts within relevant agencies.

On the other hand, part-time employees may seek to secure a part-time external job to increase income. This need for income may tempt some employees to re-engage in negative or illegal behaviors. Additionally, outside work may make them less available for employee support program activities.



An on-call model is appropriate if the nature of your social enterprise’s industry makes it very difficult to anticipate the number of workers needed on any given day. Like the part-time model, the on-call model is appropriate for social enterprises that are trying to maximize the number of individuals they employs.

Many of the considerations for a part-time model are true for the on-call model. In fact, you can assume that income stressors are greater for on-call employees, than even part-time ones. Additionally, constantly varying income puts a significant burden on employees receiving public benefits who have to repeatedly request adjustment of benefit levels



Some social enterprises choose to offer permanent employment to workers from their target population. This is common for social enterprises who employ people whose employment at – and supports from – the social enterprise are unlikely to affect the reason the individual has a hard time securing or sustaining employment (e.g., a disability). This model could also be appropriate if, for business reasons, your social enterprise needs some or all employees to have their experience or skill set developed over extended period of time on the job.

The decision to offer sustained employment for your target population should be weighed against the potential to employ more members of the target population. Social enterprises with permanent employment models should focus employee supports on stabilizing the employee and helping them retain employment within the social enterprise, offering quality employment (competitive compensation, benefits, etc.), and creating professional development and wage growth opportunities within the social enterprise.

For mixed crews where some employees are permanent and others are transitional, the social enterprise needs to be able to clearly communicate the rationale behind that decision and any opportunities for individuals to move from being transitional to permanent.


Temporary / Transitional

With the work experience and support provided during social enterprise employment, the social enterprise believes that members of the target population will be able to secure and sustain competitive external employment. When determining an appropriate duration of employment, social enterprises should balance operational considerations around employee turnover (e.g., how long does it take a new employee to become productive) with considerations around the amount of time it will take to address the issues that have inhibited employees success previously.

Social enterprises with a transitional employment model need to develop mechanisms for supporting social enterprise employees in transitioning to and retaining external employment. Social enterprises with extended transitional employment durations should leverage this longer time period by offering a wider range of, or more intensive, employee supports (e.g., supporting employees in securing academic/skill credentials, financial education/savings, etc). Additionally, the longer the transitional employment period, the more the social enterprise should consider offering benefits and opportunities for wage growth

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