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Access to Work is a scheme run by the Department of Work and Pensions that supports disabled people in overcoming work related obstacles resulting from their disability or health condition. It provides both the disabled member of staff and the University with advice and support that may arise because of an individual's needs.

If you or your member of staff is eligible for Access to Work, it may be possible to secure funding to pay for a range of support needs including a support worker and transportation to work costs. Unemployed or employed disabled people who need help with a communicator at a job interview can also get help from Access to Work.

It is important for a disabled member of staff who thinks that he or she is eligible for Access to Work support, to contact the school/institution's Human Resources Business Manager or Adviser as soon as possible upon starting employment at the University. It is recommended that a discussion with the line manager is also held.

An application to the Access to Work scheme should be made by the disabled member of staff within six weeks of starting work at the University, in order for Access to Work to pay up to 100% of the eligible costs. If an application is made after the initial six week period, the University would be expected to pay the first £1,000 and then 20% towards costs up to £10,000. Access to Work would pay the other 80%. Access to Work will however pay up to 100% of the approved cost of equipment, or adaptations over £10,000. In all applications an additional voluntary contribution will be requested.

Any member of staff who is or becomes disabled under the criteria of the Equality Act 2010 is eligible to apply for a grant from Access to Work irrespective of the length of time at the University, though in these cases the Access to Work Scheme may not meet 100% of the costs.

Access to Work applies to any paid job, part-time or full-time, permanent or temporary.

Once an application is made, a needs assessment is then undertaken by an Access to Work Adviser. In some instances, Access to Work may arrange for an assessment to be undertaken in the workplace by an Independent Assessor. The Independent Assessor prepares a report detailing the minimum requirements to meet the applicant's needs along with the expected costs. A copy of this report is sent to the disabled member of staff and the identified options part to the University. The local University department or institution where the disabled staff member works is responsible for purchasing the equipment and subsequently claiming the costs back from Access to Work.

Practical advice and help is tailored to suit individual needs for a three-year period, after which time an individual's case is reviewed. Practical help can include aids for communication, special equipment, alterations to premises or the working environment, a support worker, (if practical help is needed at work, or getting to work), assistance with communication (for example a reader at work for someone who is blind, or a communicator for deaf people) and travel where a disabled person is unable to use public transport.

What happens if the disabled employee leaves the University?

If the person leaves the job, the University can either keep the equipment or agree that the person in question takes their equipment with them. The department must however notify Access to Work as part of the grant may need to be refunded. If there is any equipment that remains at the University which is no longer needed by the local institution, the departmental administrator should contact the Disability Resource Centre to see if the equipment could be used in the DRC Loan Pool. If not, the departmental administrator should arrange for its disposal.

Procedure for making an Access to Work (AtW) application

  1. The applicant must be a disabled person as defined in Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. This states that a person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The definition of disability is broad and includes, amongst others, Depression, Diabetes, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Asperger's Syndrome, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV and Schizophrenia.

  2. The disabled person should contact Access to Work, within 6 weeks of starting employment. See contact details below. (Unemployed, or employed disabled people needing help with a communicator at a job interview, or transport to the interview should contact AtW immediately on receiving notice of a job interview.) Hearing impaired applicants can either email or textphone 020 8426 3110.

    In most cases, an application will be taken over the telephone. Blank forms are not sent out.

  3. Once the application form has been received, the applicant should send the original, signed copy back to AtW, with a copy of their job description and/or letter of job confirmation plus any other supporting documentation that is requested at the time of application. This supporting documentation must include the Health & Safety Display Screen Risk Assessment report, if applicable.

  4. They will then be assigned to an adviser who will contact the applicant to agree the best way forward. Note: AtW does not cover travel to interview—this is dealt with by the Disability Employment Advisor.

  5. Work place assessment.

    Note: This is separate to the usual Health and Safety checks that need to be carried out in the workplace for all staff, which should still be carried out as usual by the employer, regardless of the AtW application e.g. lighting, chair height, PC screen, keyboards etc.

  6. Letter to applicant and employer from AtW adviser/assessor notifying outcome of assessment, recommending equipment and financial grant available from AtW Letter includes claim form for employer.

  7. Employer buys equipment, sends completed claim form stamped as ‘paid’ with original invoices to AtW to claim back agreed amount spent.

  8. Total time from application to reimbursement of costs should be within 60 working days.

Further information

Contact details are:

Jobcentre Plus
Access to Work Operational Support Unit
Nine Elms Lane
London SW95 9BH
020 8426 3110
020 8426 3133
020 8426 3134