Background In Switzerland, people with a severe mental illness and unable to work receive disability benefits (‘IV-pension’). Once they are granted these benefits, the chances to regain competitive employment are usually small. However, previous studies have shown that individual placement and support (IPS) supports a successful reintegration into competitive employment. This study focuses on the integration of newly appointed IV-pensioners, who have received an IV-pension for less than a year. Method/design The present pilot project ZHEPP (Zürcher Eingliederungs-Pilot Projekt; engl.: Zurich integration pilot project) is a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The 250 participants will be randomized to either the intervention or the control group. The intervention group receives support of a job coach according to the approach of IPS. Participants in the control group do not receive IPS support. Participation takes a total of two years for each participant. Each group is interviewed every six months (T0-T4). A two-factor analysis of variance will be conducted with the two factors group (intervention versus control group) and outcome (employment yes/no). The main criterion of the two-factor analysis will be the number of competitive employment contracts in each group. Discussion This study will focus on the impact of IPS on new IV-pensioners and aims to identify predictors for a successful integration. Furthermore, we will examine the effect of IPS on stigma variables and recovery orientation.