Companies will be offered up to $3,000 to take on disabled people for at least one month to improve their job prospects. Under the scheme, starting on Friday, the Labour Department will refer suitable job-seekers to fill vacancies for one month. Employers with no record of hiring the disabled will have priority. Workers' progress will be monitored to ensure they settle into their jobs, and at the end of the month, employers are free to decide whether to continue their employment. Companies will receive a financial incentive equal to 50 per cent of the wages they offer, with a ceiling of $3,000, and the $600,000 scheme will run for two years. 'Many employers do not take on disabled people because they are not confident if the group will perform . . . and some are prejudiced,' senior labour officer Sunny Siu Lap-kei said. 'They may question whether it is worth putting up $6,000 to try out a disabled person but if we let them contribute only half of the sum, they may be more prepared to offer jobs.' The new scheme follows a similar project implemented last year for mentally handicapped people, which saw half of the 200 participants securing permanent jobs. Colorful Color Matching Ltd, a paint company that took part in last year's project, currently employs two workers with mild mental disabilities and two with impaired hearing. This group of workers often proved to be more hardworking than able-bodied employees, marketing supervisor Gary Mak Shu-kay said. However, Joint Council for the Physically and Mentally Disabled general secretary Simon Wu Wing-kuen said: 'Disabled people can secure jobs on their own merits if they are trained. The scheme may also be abused by ill-behaving employers who may see it as a possible way to find short-term, cheap government-subsidised labour.' Cerebral palsy sufferer Li Chi-hung, 22, did not think the scheme would help him find permanent employment. He is working part-time for a health equipment firm after leaving school two years ago. 'The one-month trial placement period is too short for us to learn the ropes and build a case for employers to continue employing us. Perhaps it should be extended by another month.'