What is Access to Work?
The government funds specialist disability support in the workplace for many people who need support or adaptations outside of that required under the Equality Act - this funding is called Access to Work.
If you’re disabled or have a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job, you can:
- talk to your employer about changes they must make in your workplace
- apply for Access to Work if you need extra help
Access to Work is there to provide support for you in either starting your own business or support at interviews and then staying in work if you have a disability, health or mental health condition. The exact support you will be awarded and how much you get will depend on your specific needs and circumstances, along with the size of the employer. This does not require paying back.
the type of support you could receive.
The support you can get is dependent on your specific needs and circumstances, but it includes things such as:
- adaptations to the equipment you use
- specialist equipment
- contributions to travel costs to work if you can’t use public transport
- a support worker or job coach to support you in your workplace
- specialist support from a tutor or mentor if you have a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyspraxia) or a mental health condition
- disability awareness training for your line manager/colleagues
- a communicator at a job interview
- the cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job.
who can apply?
You can apply for access to work if you are;
- are a resident in, and working in Great Britain
- have a disability or long term health condition that means you need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do your job (long term means lasting or likely to last for at least 12 months)
- have a mental health condition and need support in work
- are aged 16 or over
In order to qualify for the support, your ability to perform to your full potential in the job must be affected by your condition, or it must incur costs for that work, for at least 12 months. As an example, a job aide is required around the office or you have to take a taxi as you are unable to use public transport.
If you have a mental health condition or a specific learning difficulty, this must be impacting you in your job. The support can be used to help in a variety of ways, including starting a job, staying in employment and reducing absence from work.
Not everyone is eligible for this support, and if you receive any of the following benefits then you can’t receive Access to Work support.
- incapacity benefit
- employment and Support allowance
- severe disablement allowance
- income support
- national Insurance credits
If you change employers, you are free to move the support to your new employer.
starting a new business.
If you are looking at setting your own business up, you can utilise Access to Work at the same time. This can be used alongside the New Enterprise Allowance support that is provided by the government to help in setting up a business.
how to claim.
If you wish to apply for this support, you need to contact the Access to Work centre via www.gov.uk/access-to-work.
You can also apply by calling Jobcentre Plus on:
Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
On some occasions, you may require specialist advice when the Adviser is assessing your needs. If this is required, your adviser will help setting this up. Once this has been done, the specialist will send a confidential written report to your adviser, who then uses this information to recommend the appropriate support for you.
Once your support has been approved, a letter will be sent out to you and your employer with details of what support has been agreed for you to access. Your employer and you are responsible for arranging any specialist support, and any assistive technology the employer will need to buy and claim reimbursement from Access to Work.
Having read this, if you feel you are eligible for the support and wish to start receiving support, here are the steps you need to follow:
- contact either the Access to Work website or call the above Jobcentre Plus number.
- make a list of the difficulties you have in the workplace so when you are contacted by an adviser, you can be sure you cover everything with them.
In order for Access to Work to be able to provide support, they will need some information from you, including:
- your National Insurance number
- your workplace address, including your postcode
- the name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact, for example your manager
- your unique tax reference number (if you’re self-employed)
- the name of your New Enterprise Allowance mentor (if you have one)