Access to Work is a government funded employment scheme that provides individual financial support to ensure disabled people can start or stay in work.
Disabled employees will need to apply for the scheme and complete an assessment to determine a support package and recommendations based on their individual circumstances.
The support available covers a wide range of interventions in the workplace including:
- Specialist equipment
- Adaptations to equipment
- Specialist software
- Funding towards additional travel costs
- A variety of support workers, such as interpreters, readers, personal care assistants or specialist job coaches or mentors.
- The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service
You are eligible for Access to Work if you meet the definition of disability according to the Equality Act 2010. This means that you have a disability, health or mental health condition that is likely to last for 12 months or more. This can include a disability that only becomes apparent in the workplace. An example of this might be if you started work and found that your eyesight was affected by the computer screen but had not noticed this effect before you started work.
You will be eligible if you meet the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability and meet any of the following criteria:
- Have an interview for a job
- Have a job offer letter
- Are about to start work
- Are already doing paid work including any full-time, part-time, permanent, or temporary job
- Are about to begin a work trial or start work experience under the Youth Contract arranged through Jobcentre Plus
You can give the University your Access to Work eligibility letter or take it with you to a job interview. If you need communication help for a job interview before graduating, you should be able to access the Access to Work scheme, even though you are still studying.
Access to Work offers grants (financial support) to help towards the additional costs associated with entering paid employment or overcoming workplace disadvantages for disabled employees.
It does not cover the reasonable adjustments employers are expected to provide for disabled employees according to the Equality Act 2010. It also does not cover items which are regarded as standard equipment, standard business costs or standard health and safety requirements. This means that any item which would normally be needed to do the job, whether a person is disabled or not, will not be covered.
- If the adjustment required has a significant cost associated with it (currently over £1000 for University of Leeds employees) then an application to Access to Work should be made.
- Access to Work will consider paying the full amount for the support or adjustments for new disabled employees at the University but the Access to Work application will need to be made within the first six weeks of the employee start date.
- If a disabled employee has worked at the University for longer than 6 weeks, they may still receive Access to Work funding, but the University will need to pay the first £1,000 plus 20% percent of all costs up to £10,000.
- In the first instance, speak to an appropriate manager about any reasonable adjustments that could help you to carry out your role.
- An application to Access to Work needs to be made by you. No one can apply on your behalf, but if you need any help with your application you can talk to an appropriate manager or HR officer. You can apply to Access to Work without talking to anyone in the University but it will be easier to make sure you get the support you need if an appropriate manager knows about your application.
- The quickest and easiest way to apply for Access to Work is online but you can also apply for Access to Work by phone, text relay and video relay service.
When you complete the Access to Work application you may need:
- Your National Insurance number
- Your workplace address, including postcode
- The name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact, for example an appropriate manager or Departmental Administrator.
- After you make an application for Access to Work, an adviser will contact you to discuss what help might be available.
- You may need to take part in a workplace assessment to determine your needs. The assessment can be arranged through an online British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting service or an online video service.
- If you know exactly what support is needed you do not need to have an assessment.
- An Access to Work adviser will discuss the support award with you and the appropriate manager to develop a tailored package of support.
- Depending on your circumstances, the adviser may decide that a more technical assessment is needed. The adviser will arrange for a contracted external workplace assessor to visit your place of work and they will work with you and the appropriate manager to identify recommendations for a tailored support package.
- After the assessment a confidential report will recommend suitable adjustments, equipment or support you may need, including details of costs and suppliers.
- You will be sent two copies of this report, one for yourself and one for the University. You can tell Access to Work whom you would like the report to be sent to at the University. This should be an appropriate manager, for example the person who is responsible for supporting you generally in your day-to-day work such as a line manager.
- The Access to Work adviser will contact you to discuss the recommendations in the report.
- An approval letter detailing the agreed funding will be sent both to you and your University contact.
- Access to Work does not provide support directly but a grant to reimburse the agreed cost of the support that is needed.
- The University purchases the agreed recommendations and then claims the grant back from Access to Work using a claim form sent with your award approval letter.
- Local faculties, school and services will administer this process, but you may be asked to keep purchase orders, invoices or receipts so that the reimbursement claim form can be completed.
- The University has 9 months to claim for costs.
- After the first year, Access to Work will review your individual circumstances and the support you receive to assess if continued or further funding is needed. If you need the funding, you should continue to receive it.
- Access to Work will contact you 12 weeks before your support is due to end. If you would like the support to continue you will need to apply to renew your Access to Work application.
- If your support requirements change you need to tell Access to Work so your award can be reviewed and updated.
- If your job role has changed, you can ask for your award to be reviewed. This can take place as many times as your situation changes.
- If you change employers, you may be able to transfer equipment to your new employer. You cannot automatically transfer awards for support workers or travel. You would need to contact the Access to Work team to discuss your new arrangements.
- If you do not agree with your Access to Work award you cannot appeal against the decision, but you can ask for it to be reconsidered by a different Access to Work Adviser.
- If you have a complaint about the service you have received from Access to Work, you can use the DWP complaints procedure.
Make all disabled employees under your management aware of the Access to Work scheme and the University’s Access to Work Guidance. Please ensure that you are also familiar with this guidance. Offer individual meetings with disabled employees under your management to discuss and agree any workplace adjustments, including any Access to Work assessments, recommendations and funding granted.
- The scheme is a self-referral process so you cannot apply on behalf of an employee, but you can encourage and support disabled employees to apply for the scheme.
- Access to Work will consider paying the full amount of the approved costs of the support for new employees at the University if they apply for their Access to Work application within the first six weeks after starting work at the University.
- If a disabled employee has worked at the University for longer than 6 weeks they may still receive support, although the University will need to pay the first £1,000 plus 20% percent of all costs up to £10,000.
- You may need to respond to contact from Access to Work advisers to provide information for the employee assessment and the development of a tailored package of support.
- Depending on the employee circumstances the adviser may decide that a more technical assessment is needed. In this case the adviser will arrange for a contracted external workplace assessor to visit the place of work. They will work with you and the employee to identify recommendations for a tailored support package to overcome workplace disadvantages.
- The Access to Work process is based on self-referral so staff can apply without speaking to you or any other manager in advance. Please be prepared to respond to Access to Work advisers contacting you about Access to Work employee assessments.
- If you have received a copy of an Access to Work award report, confirm receipt of the report via email with the relevant employee.
- Arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss the recommendations in the report.
- Confirm in writing with the employee an action plan for putting the recommendations in place and keep the employee regularly updated about progress.
- Local faculties, school and services should have an agreed approach for Access to Work reimbursement to ensure effective administration of the process.
- Ensure that the University is reimbursed for the agreed costs of support by arranging for the Access to Work claim form to be completed.
- All purchase orders, invoices, and receipts must be kept for completing the claim form.
- The University has 9 months to claim for costs.
- Support disabled employees to communicate with Access to Work advisers about reviews, renewals, and reconsiderations of any support reward (see further details about this in the link provided).
- Remind disabled employees to ask for their Access to Work support to be reviewed following any change in circumstances related to their job role or work environment.
- If a disabled employee leaves the University, remind them that they may be able to transfer equipment to their new employer.