Employment First promotes that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life.

Advancing Employment First and Building Full Lives: Working Together

In Employment Articles, Featured, News by Priscilla Matthews

Wisconsin is an Employment First state, where we work together to Build Full Lives.

Advancing Employment First

Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you don’t want to work and participate in your community like everyone else.  Employment First is a framework centered on the belief that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life. In March of 2018, Governor Walker signed the Employment First Act into law in Wisconsin.

What Does this Mean?

Employment First effects all publicly-funded programs in Wisconsin that support working age people with disabilities to engage in activities outside their homes. Programs are now required to prioritize employment and ensure people who have a disability are treated the same as other employees without disabilities. Just like other employees, employees with disabilities have the right to be:

  • Paid directly by their employer at minimum or prevailing wages, whichever is more, for the same or similar work
  • Eligible for the same benefits
  • Work in a typical setting with the opportunity to interact continuously with other co-workers without disabilities
  • Eligible for advancement, as appropriate
  • Working full time, if appropriate

Building Full Lives

Employment is only one piece of the Employment First law. It’s vital that people find meaning and feel valued in their work, relationships, and activities. If these “full life” needs aren’t met, they might choose not to work in the community, or may not find it meaningful.

The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities led the Building Full Lives initiative 4 years ago.  This initiative supports providers to serve people with disabilities in a way that results in meaningful employment and community lives.

Working Together to Advance Employment First and Build Full Lives

Your participation makes a difference. Check out the information and resources below to learn more about what you can do to ensure that Wisconsin’s Employment First law lives up to its promise and people with disabilities in Wisconsin have the resources and support they need to pursue their employment and life goals.

Get Involved!