Many people with mental retardation are capable of working in a variety of full- or part-time jobs. Studies have shown that most employers are satisfied with the performance, work attendance, and loyalty of people with mental retardation. Employees with retardation do not have more accidents on the job than other workers, nor do they raise employee health insurance or benefit costs. Because people with retardation may take longer to master job tasks, supervisors may spend additional time with them during the first few days or weeks of employment. Job coaching programs established in some communities provide a specialist who helps in the initial training of a mentally retarded individual. Employers who hire individuals with mental retardation may be eligible for government tax credits and other incentives. People with more severe mental retardation may work in other settings, including special facilities known as sheltered workshops.
Despite their ability to work, most people with mental retardation do not have jobs. Surveys indicate that only about 36 percent of mentally retarded adults have full-time or part-time jobs. Reasons for this low employment rate may include a lack of training in vocational and social skills, lack of encouragement from others, and a scarcity of community programs that aid people with mental retardation in finding and maintaining employment. In addition, employers may hesitate to hire people with mental retardation because of uncertainty over how to provide accommodations for their disability.