Legislation and supervision
The sheltered sector is governed by various types of legislation. While some countries (e.g. Costa Rica, Greece, India, Ireland, South Africa or Sweden) have no specific legislation on the organization or operation of sheltered workplaces, most other countries do have specific legislation or regulations governing aspects of sheltered employment, both to protect employees and to specify exceptions to the application of labour law (notably as regards a fixed minimum wage). However, in some countries sheltered employment is explicitly excluded from standard labour legislation (e.g. Australia, unless there was an enterprise agreement or an “award” in the branch of activity in question); in some other countries, existing labour law applies in the absence of any specific reference to sheltered employment in the legislation. Such workshops may be supervised either directly by the ministry of labour at central level (e.g. Norway, for the “labour market enterprises” (AMB), and Portugal) or at regional or local level (Spain), or by the ministry of social affairs, or even jointly.
When there are two or more types of workshop, a distinction is generally drawn between those concerned primarily with production and those where the treatment is the focus. They are supervised by the relevant ministry (labour or health, respectively) and are subject to different regulations, particularly as regards labour law. Workers with less severe disabilities are largely found in workshops emphasizing production, while treatment-oriented workshops employ a large proportion of persons with a mental impairment.