The Special Employment Centres (CEE), also called Special Work Centres (CET) , are companies that have the objective of favouring the labour integration of persons with disabilities. That is to say, companies where the majority of their workers have some type of disability.

In this type of centre, the figure of the psychologist is found. In this article, we will learn about some of their functions, the characteristics of EWCs, how they work and what types of services they offer. We will also explain the different types of disabilities of the people who work there.

What is a Special Employment Center?

What is a Special Employment Center? A Special Employment Centre (SEC), also called a Special Work Centre (SWC), is a company that hires people with some kind of disability . The disability may be of any type (sensory, physical, mental or intellectual), depending on the type of work and the tasks and functions that it entails.

Thus, the Special Employment Centres are a fundamental source of recruitment and professional development for people with disabilities. Their objective is to provide workers with disabilities with the performance of productive and remunerated work, adapted to their personal characteristics, and that facilitates the labour integration of these persons in the ordinary labour market.


The Special Employment Centres form part of the protected labour market, that is, a type of market where positions are offered for vulnerable groups on a social level , as is the case of the group of persons with some type of disability.

The worker who joins a EWC or ETC must have an official disability certificate, with a minimum grade of 33%; however, there is a small part of the workforce for people without disabilities, as we will explain later.

The EWC or CET was created in Spain by the Law on the Social Integration of Disabled People, now called the General Law on Disability .

Operation of a Special Employment Centre

To fully understand what a Special Employment Center is, it is important to understand how it works. Normally in Special Employment Centres there are other external companies that contract the services of the EWC; for example, a company that has tobacco packages with its lighter and filters included, contracts the services of the EWC to manufacture these products.

Services of a EWC

Generally, a EWC or TEC includes a number of regular services. These are generally the following: gardening, maintenance, cleaning, janitorial and administrative services . That is, the professionals with disabilities who will work in it will be trained (and/or have experience) in these fields.

Who works in a Special Employment Center?

Apart from workers with disabilities (e.g. cleaning, gardening, maintenance, janitorial,…), in the Special Employment Centres there are also workers who are part of the USAP team (Professional Care Support Unit).

The USAP team usually consists of psychologists and social workers ,and is in charge of offering support and advice. On the other hand, supervisors of the different services, coordinators, governors, administrative staff, etc. also work; these workers may or may not have a disability.

Professionals with disabilities

Now that we understand a little more what a Special Employment Center is, we can start to place its professionals with disabilities as well.

The term “disability”, according to the WHO (World Health Organization), is a general concept that covers impairments, activity limitations and restrictions on a person’s participation. But what does each of these mean? Impairments include bodily functions, activity limitations are difficulties in performing certain tasks, and participation restrictions involve problems in participating in life situations .

Types of disability

People with disabilities who work in a EWC, present a minimum degree of 33% of disability . Disability can be of different types:

1. Sensory disability

It affects one (or several) of the sensory modalities: visual (blindness, malignant myopia,…), auditory (deafness),…

2. Intellectual disability

It is the most frequent in the Special Employment Centres. It involves deficits in intellectual or cognitive functioning . The degrees of intellectual disability in these workers are usually slight, light or moderate. People with severe intellectual disabilities usually go to occupational centres (CO).

3. Physical disability

Implies a motor impairment; it is a condition that prevents or hinders free movement, physical performance and/or movement in people. Examples of it are having a spinal cord injury (paraplegia, tetraplegia,…), amputations, scoliosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, etc.

4. Psychic disability

It implies the existence of a mental disorder or illness. The person has adaptive behavior disorders, usually chronic. It would include cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder, etc .

The figure of the psychologist in a EWC

Finally, in order to continue understanding what a Special Employment Centre is, we must bear in mind that there is the figure of the psychologist within it. But, what functions does he or she carry out? Basically, and in broad terms, the psychologist of the USAP team (already mentioned) is in charge of carrying out a good follow-up of the workers, in all areas of their lives .

It evaluates the different spheres of the worker and participates in his or her well-being, both in the workplace and outside it. It is also in charge of the labor part.

At a follow-up level, the psychologist carries out the so-called PIIL (Programa Individual de Integración Laboral), a document for each worker with a series of objectives in the personal, labour and interpersonal relations areas. This document can be drawn up jointly with the social worker and after an exhaustive follow-up interview with the worker.

Bibliographic references:

  • Baker & McKenzie. (2018). Policies for the labour insertion of people with disabilities through the protected labour market. Critical aspects for its maintenance and sustainable development. Executive Summary, 2-10.
  • Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security. (2018). Special Employment Centres. State Employment Service (SEPE).