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Access to Work - practical help at work

If you have a disability, you may find that practical obstacles at work are stopping you making the most of your opportunities. Access to Work is designed to help you and your employer find solutions to these problems.

Access to Work could help if you're about to start paid work (including self employment) or if you're already in a job. Both unemployed and employed disabled people who need the help of a communicator at a job interview can get help through Access to Work.

Contacting your local Disability Employment Adviser

If you feel that the type of work you do is affected by a disability or health condition that is likely to last for 12 months or more, ask the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre Plus office about Access to Work. They can put you in touch with your closest Access to Work Business Centre to check whether you're eligible for help.

Types of help

There are a variety of ways in which Access to Work can help. For example, it can help pay for:

  • communication support, if you're deaf or have a hearing impairment and need support at an interview
  • a reader at work, if you're blind or have a visual impairment
  • special equipment (or alterations to existing equipment) to suit your particular work needs arising from a disability
  • help with the additional costs of travel to work for people who are unable to use public transport

Access to Work can also pay for a support worker, if you need practical help either at work or getting to work. The type of support on offer might include:

  • someone to read to you if you are visually impaired,
  • someone to help you communicate if you have a hearing impairment, or
  • a specialist coach for a person with learning difficulties

Getting help - the process

An Access to Work adviser will usually speak to you and your employer to reach a decision about the most effective support for you. In most cases, this can be done over the telephone, but a visit can be arranged if necessary.

Sometimes specialist advice may be needed, which the Access to Work adviser will help to arrange. For example, your adviser may arrange for a specialist organisation, such as the Royal National Institute of the Blind, to complete an assessment and recommend appropriate support. In such cases, a confidential written report will be sent to the Access to Work adviser, who will use this information to help them decide on the right level of support.

Your employer's responsibilities

Once your adviser has decided on the package of support they feel is appropriate, they will seek formal approval of their recommendations from Jobcentre Plus. You and your employer will then receive a letter informing you of the approved level of support and the grant available.

It's usually your employer (or you if you are self-employed) who is responsible for arranging the agreed support and purchasing the necessary equipment. Your employer can then claim back a grant towards these approved costs from Access to Work.

Your Access to Work grant

The amount of help which you may receive from Access to Work will vary depending on how long you have been employed, what support you need and whether you are self-employed.

Access to Work can pay up to 100 per cent of the approved costs if you are:

  • unemployed and starting a new job
  • self-employed
  • working for an employer and have been in the job for less than six weeks

Whatever your employment status, Access to Work will also pay up to 100 per cent of the approved costs of help with:

  • support workers
  • fares to work
  • communicator support at interview

The level of support costs available

Access to Work pays a proportion of the costs of support if:

  • you're working for an employer and
  • you've been in the job for six weeks or more and
  • you need special equipment or adaptations to premises.

In these circumstances, your employer would be expected to pay the first £300 of the costs of support, plus a further minimum 20 per cent of the costs up to a ceiling of £10,000. Jobcentre Plus would pay the remaining amount up to a maximum of 80 per cent and up to 100 per cent of agreed costs over £10,000.

The precise level of cost sharing is agreed between your employer and the Access to Work adviser.

All help provided is for a maximum period of three years, after which the Access to Work Business Centre will review your circumstances and the support you're receiving.

Communication support for deaf people

Communication support includes British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, lipspeakers and notetakers. Find out about how it can be arranged and examples of communication support in certain situations.

Additional links

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