Employment Self Advocacy Tool Kit


This guide has been developed to help you help yourself if you come across barriers as an employee or job seeker due to your access need.

It includes some practical ways to find out what the problem is, and how to get to the source of the issue to get things fixed. 


If you experience a barrier to accessing employment you will need to explain that you have an access need.

It helps if you know as much as possible about your disability, so that you can explain your access need. 


Many organisations may not have thought about the accessibility needs of people. It helps to explain clearly, and to be polite and patient. 

Avoid stereotypes and assumptions

It is important to avoid encouraging stereotypes and assumptions about providing access to employment for all people with access needs. 

What should I expect when accessing employment or participating in the workplace?

It is fair to expect that you can access employment or take part in the workplace with the same dignity as those without a disability, including:

  • recruitment (advertising, providing information about jobs, application forms, interview arrangements, selection tests or examinations)
  • staff selection
  • conditions of employment (salary, duties, leave entitlements, superannuation)
  • opportunities for training and promotion
  • dismissal
  • trade or professional registration
  • membership of unions and professional associations.

These protections apply to all employees.

What can I do if I experience a barrier to employment? 

  • Give details of where, when and how you were trying to access the recruitment process or interview
  • Describe what happened or what the barrier was
  • Explain how the barrier has impacted you as someone with an access need
  • Offer positive suggestions of what could be changed to give you more equitable access. 

If you experience barriers in the workplace, you can speak with your supervisor or manager. This may be a face-to-face meeting between the two of you, or through an email. 

Topics that you may discuss with a supervisor or manager:

  • A clear and brief summary of the barrier you have faced
  • How the barrier impacts on your duties at work
  • Steps you have taken to address the barrier
  • Proposed solutions that might be made to reduce or avoid the barrier
  • A timeframe for the supervisor or manager to get back to you in order for you to consider your next steps.

If the issue is not resolved, you may want to contact a union representative, or human resources department staff, or take the matter to a higher level of management. You can also seek advice from Auckland Disability Law.

Making a complaint

If you have received a poor response, or no response at all, you may consider lodging a complaint.

You may wish to access the organisation’s internal complaints procedures, or contact the Human Rights Commission in respect of alleged discrimination. 

What if I lose my job?

If you have been terminated from your employment because of your access need, you can lodge a discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

Employers must take positive steps to accommodate your access need, so that you have equal access to work and employment.  

Other common scenarios

Employers engage a third party 

Employers sometimes hire a third party organisation to do their recruitment for them. However, the employer is also responsible for the recruitment process.

Resources and government support for disabled employees and job seekers

Supported employment agencies

These are located across New Zealand and help disabled people find and get employment.

Workbridge is the largest supported employment agency in New Zealand that gives employers access to a wide talent pool of people with disability, injury or illness.  They can help you develop job-searching skills and find the most suitable employment.  

Website: https://workbridge.co.nz/

New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) lists other supported employment agencies that you can search by region or by disability.

Website: https://nzdsn.org.nz/service/employment-vocational-training-support/

Workwise is an employment agency for people with experience of mental illness or addiction.  It has several offices in the North Island and one office in Christchurch.

Website: https://www.workwise.org.nz/

Blind Low Vision NZ provides employment support services for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

Phone: 0800 24 33 33

Website: https://blindlowvision.org.nz/how-we-can-help/

For Blind Low Vision NZ service users looking for work or wanting to discuss employment-related issues you can subscribe to the employment email list.

Careers New Zealand is responsible for leading the career development of all New Zealanders.  Their website provides information about careers options.

Website: https://www.careers.govt.nz/

Helpful links and contact details

Human Rights Commission

Infoline: 0800 496 877

Fax: 09 377 3593 (Attn: Infoline)

Email: [email protected]

TXT: 0210 236 4253

Website: www.hrc.co.nz

Auckland Disability Law

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 09 257 5140

Fax: 09 275 4693

TXT: 027 457 5140

Website: www.aucklanddisabilitylaw.org.nz

National Health and Disability Advocacy Service

To assist you to resolve a complaint about a health or disability service.

Email: [email protected]

Freephone: 0800 555 050 

Website: www.advocacy.org.nz



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