Employer Recruitment Incentive

Our local Employment CONNECT Employer Recruitment Incentive (ERI) supports people with the greatest barriers to employment get jobs and stay in jobs. You can apply for funding to help with the costs of recruiting and employing someone who fits the eligibility criteria for the fund. It can provide up to £8,000 for newly created jobs or vacancies. If you are successful in applying to the incentive you will receive the money direct.

ERI is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by the council. The support provided by the Scottish Government is funded by No One Left Behind.

The incentive plays an important role in supporting those with the greatest barriers to employment, to enable them to obtain and remain in sustainable employment. It has been developed to integrate and link fully with existing employability and skills programmes and is available to use as a contribution to the additional costs of recruiting and sustaining eligible individuals in employment.  

The objectives of the ERI are to positively contribute to a fairer more inclusive economy and to help address many of the deep-seated challenges of inequality and disadvantage within the Scottish labour market. The specific objectives are:

  • To reduce the number of people unemployed
  • To create a person centred, more joined up, flexible and responsive form of support
  • Provide a seamless set of interventions that complement each other
  • To ensure resources are co-ordinated to improve opportunities and outcomes
  • Prevent and reduce the number of people long term unemployed
  • Support more people into sustainable, greener, and fairer employment, and have due regard to tackling inequality in all its forms including occupational segregation
  • Increase the number of people in employment who are engaged in learning and skills development
  • Increase the number of people achieving qualifications
  • To reduce levels of in work poverty by providing security of pay and contract
  • Support career progression
  • Increase the number of people accessing apprenticeships with a specific focus on equalities groups
  • To stimulate demand for employment within the labour market

Eligible employers

Employers who employ individuals on precarious or flexible, or zero-hour contracts, will not be eligible.

Employers from all sectors are eligible for the ERI and there is no restriction on the size of employer, but priority will be given to private SMEs (small to medium sized companies with up to 250 employees) and third sector organisations including social enterprises. You should use the ERI to fill vacancies and create new and additional jobs.

The number of individuals you can recruit and appropriately support using the ERI is usually two individuals, however any additional applications will be determined on a case by case basis.

All employers in receipt of the ERI are encouraged to promote and embed fair work in line with the Fair Work First guidance. In 2023/24 the requirement to pay the Real Living Wage is not compulsory, however from April 2024 this will become mandatory.

We can only offer funding for employees who live within Aberdeenshire as this is a beneficiary employment support measure and relates to the employee's home postcode. This means that you should apply for funding via the local authority in which your new employee lives. You, as the employer, can be located throughout Scotland and your postcode doesn't need to be within Aberdeenshire.

It is expected that the employers:

  • Ensure that the participant receive formal training as part of their job and as part of your investment in workforce development
  • Ensure that quarterly reviews are undertaken to ensure a quality experience for both participant and employer
  • Be proactive in their collection and use of data to address specific equality issues, for example public sector employers publish their ethnicity pay gap and produce an action plan to deliver identified outcomes
  • Will take action to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace
  • Ensure a safe and healthy working environment
  • Make a commitment to retain the participant beyond the period of the ERI support

What the funding can and cannot be used for

You can use the fund to help with the costs of recruiting and keeping a person in employment including an apprenticeship for up to 52 weeks. Costs may include:

  • wages
  • additional supervisory costs
  • initial travel to work costs
  • training
  • specialist support designed to help a person sustain a job past 52 weeks
  • other job-related costs

The incentive should not:

  • Be used to create a job to cover a period of existing staff sickness or maternity leave
  • Be used to replace a post from which someone was made redundant
  • Duplicate costs that will be paid for by other programmes such as, Job Start Payment and Access to Work

However it can be used as a progression from one of these programmes into paid employment but the conditions of the ERI funding must be met. It can be used to pay for support for a period prior to Access to Work funding being established, to ensure the job is retained, but it doesn't replace your duty under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments. This is particularly relevant to public sector employers, who have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments which must be funded directly.

The incentive can be aligned to other employability programmes where appropriate to support the sustainability of employment, however they can’t be used at the same time.

Eligible jobs

For a job to be eligible for funding it must meet the following criteria:

  • Offer a minimum of 52 weeks employment
  • Guarantee a minimum of 16 hours employment each week (a job of fewer hours may be considered where it is in the interests of the proposed employee – for example greater flexibility in recognition of their personal circumstances)
  • Pay minimum wage rates or higher
  • Pay a salary greater than funding received
  • Have a contract of employment, such as permanent contract, a fixed term contract for 52 weeks or a fixed term contract for the duration of the apprenticeship
  • By law, employees must receive a written contract of employment within two months of starting (we will need a copy of this)

The following doesn't meet the eligibility criteria for the fund:

  • Unpaid voluntary work
  • Registration with a recruitment agency or other third-party employment fully or part financed by additional public-sector funding, this includes Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) or European Social Funded (ESF) projects taking part in other work that is not subject to a contract of employment or registration with an employment agency (unless employees are employed solely for the agency and no other party)
  • Employment which has already started
  • Zero hours contracts

Who you can employ

The fund is for people who experience barriers to employment and, without additional support, might not make a successful transition into or be able to secure work. It applies to new job starts and new employees should not start the job until the funding is agreed.

You can employ someone who meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is unemployed
  • Is aged between 16-67 years
  • Lives within Aberdeenshire
  • Has the right to live and work in the UK
  • Falls within two or more of the fund's eligible groups 

We will give priority to people who experience more than one barrier to their learning or entering the workplace, for example:

  • Environment
  • Family circumstances
  • Disability or health need
  • Social or emotional factors

Find out more about the eligible groups and barriers (PDF 150KB).

Meeting the minimum wage

You must pay at least the national minimum or living wage to new starts to be eligible to apply for the fund. View the National Minimum Wage and Real Living Wage rates.

We encourage you to consider paying your employee the real living wage by offering you a higher rate of funding. Your application will be assessed on this information.

What the fund offers

The fund offers an employer a tiered amount of up to £8,000 over a period of 52 weeks. The amount you receive is based on the hourly rate of pay and contracted hours for each employee. Find out more about how the funding is paid.

Hourly rate between National Minimum Wage and Real Living Wage

Contracted hours Award amount
A part-time job (16-20 contracted hours per week) £2,000
A part-time job (21-29 contracted hours per week) £4,000
A full-time job (30 or more contracted hours per week) £6,000

Hourly rate at or above Real Living Wage

Contracted hours Award amount
A part-time job (16-20 contracted hours per week) £4,000
A part-time job (21-29 contracted hours per week) £6,000
A full-time job (30 or more contracted hours per week) £8,000

How to apply

Before applying, please view the application guide and conditions (PDF 123KB).

To apply please complete the application form (available in two formats) and return to

View the No One Left Behind funding privacy notice (PDF 144KB) to find out what we do with your information. 

What happens once we have approved your application

We need to show how the funding is allocated and spent. We will therefore need all applicants and recipients to comply with the Scottish Government and Aberdeenshire Council’s application, monitoring and finance processes.

Once your employee is in post, we will need to meet with you both to complete the final paperwork for this stage. We are required to record information about the job and the employee on our management information system.

We will meet with you and your employee quarterly to complete action plans for your employee. These are goals that your employee will work towards as part of their job.

To receive payment from us, we will require you to submit payslips and an invoice along with completed action plans. Find out more about how the funding is paid.

Subsidy Control Act 2022

For an award of financial assistance to be defined as a subsidy, several conditions outlined in the Subsidy Control Act 2022 must be met. Through the use of this Subsidy Control guide for public authorities, the council has determined that an ERI award is not a subsidy as:

  • The financial assistance is not provided on favourable terms as it is not limited to specific enterprises that is all enterprises are eligible for an ERI; eligibility for an ERI is based on the employment of specific beneficiaries (priority customers, participants or clients supported by employment support services) and not the enterprise
  • The value of the financial assistance is not capable of having a genuine effect, that is more than incidental or hypothetical, on competition or investment in the UK, or on international trade or investment

Contact us

You can contact us by emailing or by calling us on 01467 533058.