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Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Access to Work - practical help at work

Access to Work can help you if your health or disability affects the way you do your job. It gives you and your employer advice and support with extra costs which may arise because of your needs.

About Access to Work

Access to Work might pay towards the equipment you need at work, adapting premises to meet your needs, or a support worker. It can also pay towards the cost of getting to work if you cannot use public transport.

If you need a communicator at job interviews, Access to Work may be available, too.

Who can get Access to Work

You may be able to get Access to Work if you are:

  • in a paid job
  • unemployed and about to start a job
  • unemployed and about to start a Work Trial
  • self-employed

and your disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job.

Your disability or health condition may not have a big effect on what you do each day, but may have a long-term effect on how well you can do your job.

How to contact Access to Work

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, contact your regional Access to Work contact centre to check whether you can get help.

Alternatively, ask the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre about Access to Work.

Getting help - the process

If you are likely to be eligible for Access to Work, you will be sent an application form to fill in and send back.

When the completed form has arrived back, an Access to Work adviser will contact you. The adviser will usually speak to you and your employer to reach a decision about the best 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 to complete an assessment and recommend appropriate support.

In this case, 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 is the responsibility of your employer - or you, if you are self-employed - to arrange the agreed support and buy the necessary equipment. Your employer can then claim repayment of the 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


Access to Work pays a proportion of the costs of support if all of the following apply to you:

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

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

After between one and three years, Access to Work will review your circumstances and the support you're receiving.

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