Access to Work Information for Employers



Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work. It can provide practical and financial support for people who have a disability or long term physical or mental health condition. Support can be provided where someone needs help or adaptations beyond reasonable adjustments.

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to help your employee stay in work, or to support you if you are self-employed. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not covered by Access to Work and there is a different service in Northern Ireland.

How can it help me?

Access to Work can help you:

  • hire disabled people with the skills you need
  • retain an employee who develops a disability or long term condition (keeping their valuable skills and saving both time and money recruiting a replacement)
  • show that you value and will support your employees by having good employment policies and practices

Your employee can get help paying for support they may need because of their disability or long term health condition, for example:

  • aid and equipment in the workplace
  • adapting equipment to make it easier for them to use
  • travel to work
  • travel in work
  • communication support at interviews
  • a wide variety of support workers
  • the Mental Health Support Service
  • other practical help at work, such as a job coach or a sign-language interpreter

If your staff member has a mental health condition, they will be offered assistance to develop a support plan. This may include steps to support them remaining in or returning to work and suggestions for reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Examples of assistance to develop a support plan:

  • flexible working patterns to accommodate changes in mood and impact of medication
  • providing a mentor to give additional support at work
  • arranging additional time to complete certain tasks
  • providing additional training
  • regular meetings between you and your employee to talk about their concerns
  • a phased return to work, such as reduced hours or less days

Access to Work does not provide the support itself, but provides a grant to reimburse the cost of the support that is needed.

Mental Health Support Service

Through the Mental Health Support Service

  • gives advice and guidance to help employers understand mental ill health and how they can support employees, and
  • offers eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and help to develop a support plan

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Who can get Access to Work

To be eligible for help, a person must:

  • have a disability or long term health condition that has a negative effect on their ability to do their job
  • have a mental health condition and need support in work
  • be over 16 years old
  • be in, or about to start, paid employment (including self-employment)
  • normally live and work in Great Britain
  • not be claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance once they are in work

However, they may get it for a limited time if they are doing certain types of ‘permitted work’ to help them move off benefits completely.

Their condition

Their disability or health condition must affect their ability to do the job or means they have to pay work-related costs.

For example, special computer equipment or travel costs because they can’t use public transport.

If they have a mental health condition it must affect their ability to do the job. It must also mean they need support to:

  • reduce absence from work
  • stay in work

Dyslexia and ATW

ATW’s contracted assessors do not conduct dyslexia diagnostic assessments. Their role is to assess the customer’s needs based on a diagnostic report and make suitable recommendations. If you do not already have a recognised supplier for diagnostic assessments or workplace needs assessments, then we can supply these for you. Please call us on 01204 551822.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single benefit paid to those in or out of employment. If your employee is claiming Universal Credit and has a disability or health condition, they will be able to apply for Access to Work for any paid work they do.

Changing Jobs

If an individual changes employers, they may be able to transfer equipment to their new employer, but they cannot automatically transfer awards for support workers or travel – they would need to contact the Access to Work team to discuss their new arrangements.

Working out of the country

If you have a member of staff whose job is normally based in Great Britain, but you ask them to travel out of the country as part of their duties, Access to Work support would be provided but may be limited.

European Union (EU) and outside the European Union

When your company is based in a EU country and you send you employee to Great Britain to work, they can apply for Access to Work support.

Supported internships/traineeships

From 1 September 2013, young people who start a work placement with an employer as part of the Department for Education supported internship programme or a BIS traineeship will be able to apply for Access to Work support for the time of their work placement only.

Access to Work will fund additional travel, job coach and other support, including costs of equipment if appropriate, and promote the smooth transition into paid employment.

No other types of unpaid internships/traineeships will qualify for Access to Work support.

Members of the clergy

Applications from members of the clergy, no matter what their religious denomination is, can be accepted. However, they must be in paid employment, for example, Church of England clergy receive a salary or stipend whereas some other religious denominations work in a different way.

Company directors

Company Directors can apply to get Access to Work support. However, they must prove that the company is registered with Companies House in Cardiff.

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How much will this cost as an Employer?

As an employer, you may have to share the cost with Access to Work if the person has been working for you for more than six weeks when they apply for Access to Work.

You will only have to share the cost for:

  • special aids and equipment
  • adaptations to premises or equipment

Cost share does not apply to self-employed applicants or to the Mental Health Support Service.

How much will the grant be for?

Access to Work will consider paying grants of up to 100% for

  • self-employed people
  • people who have been working for less than six weeks when they first apply for Access to Work.
  • the Mental Health Support Service
  • support workers
  • additional travel to work and travel in work costs
  • communication support at interviews

The level of grant will depend on:

  • whether the person is employed or self-employed
  • how long they have been in their job
  • the type of help required

What will my share of the costs be?

When cost sharing applies, Access to Work will refund up to 80% of the approved costs between a threshold and £10,000. As the employer, you will contribute 100% of costs up to the threshold level and 20% of the costs between the threshold and £10,000.

The amount of the threshold is determined by the number of employees you have.

0 to 49 employees nil
50 to 249 employees £500
Over 250 employees £1000

Any balance above £10,000 will normally be met by Acces to Work

If the support also provides a general business benefit, a contribution will be sought in addition to any compulsory cost share.

Changes to Access to Work from 1 October 2015

Following changes to Access to Work, grants will be capped at £40,800 per year. The cap will be applied:

  • on 1 October 2015 for all new grants given after that date
  • on 1 April 2018 for all grants given before 1 October 2015

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How someone can claim

If your employee thinks they can get help from Access to Work, they should call or email the Access to Work team:

Access to Work
Telephone: 0345 268 8489
Textphone: 0345 608 8753

Calls to 0345 numbers cost no more than a standard geographic call, and count towards any free or inclusive minutes in your landline or mobile phone contract.

An adviser will then call you and your employee back. Your employee needs to tell them about the help and support they need.

When your employee contacts Access to Work, they may need:

  • their National Insurance number
  • the workplace address, including your postcode
  • the name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact, for example their manager or yourself
  • a unique tax reference number (if self-employed)
  • the name of their New Enterprise Allowance mentor (if they have one)

If you are unable to contact Access to Work by telephone

If you need an alternative way of contacting Access to Work to discuss your needs, you can use the contact details below to write to them at:

Access to Work
Operational Support Unit
Harrow Jobcentre Plus
Mail Handling Site A
Wolverhampton WV98 1JE

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What happens next?

The AtW Adviser may ask for a specialist assessment to identify the support needed, for example

  • technical
  • ergonomic
  • third sector specialist (RNID / RNIB)

And they will arrange for an assessment to take place in the workplace. Once completed the assessment report containing any recommendations will be returned to the AtW Adviser who will then write to your member of staff with the result of their claim.

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Ordering Equipment and Training

Once agreed, normally the employer would place an order for the equipment and / or training with Bennett Workplace Solutions.

You can place orders by email at

All orders should be accompanied by an official purchase order from your organisation. If your organisation does not use purchase orders, then an email order confirmation with all the appropriate details may be sufficient. Please call to check. 01204 551822.

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Paying for Equipment and Training

If your organisation has an account with Bennett Workplace, then we will invoice you for the goods and services. Invoices must be paid within 30 days of the date of the invoice.

If you have not ordered from Bennett Workplace before then payment must be made with order, either by Card over the telephone, or by BACS transfer. No goods will be despatched or training booked until that payment is made.

Please note that our contract is with you as the employer, and not with Access To Work. You must pay for the goods to our terms (30 days) and claim the funds back via the AtW claim form submitting our invoice as proof of receipt of the goods. You cannot wait for any funds from AtW before paying Bennett Workplace's Invoice.

On occasions, if your organisation is suffering from cash flow issues, AtW may choose to pay us directly. You should speak to your employee's AtW Adviser regarding this. We would need written notification directly from AtW with their contact details in order to send them a pro-forma invoice.

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Employers Legal Responsibilities

Employers have a number of legal responsibilities under the:

  • Factories Act, 1961;
  • Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act, 1963;
  • Building (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 1985;
  • Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Amendment) Act, 1976;
  • Building Regulations, Part M, or in Scotland, Technical Standards, Part T;
  • Health and Safety Acts and other Regulations;
  • Equality Act 2010,
  • England and Wales – regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and Fire Safety (Scotland) regulations 2006.
  • Other European Union Regulations.

These regulations cover:

  • access to premises
  • sanitary facilities
  • parking and
  • other aspects of a disabled person’s needs on working premises and buildings to which the public has access.

For advice on current regulations employers can contact:

  • Local Authority Planning Departments
  • the Health and Safety Executive
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission and
  • Fire and Rescue Authorities.

Under Fire safety requirements employers have to:

  • carry out fire safety risk assessments and
  • implement proper fire precautions and protections measures and
  • maintain a fire management plan

Workstation Assessments

Under Health and Safety requirements employers must do regular workstation assessments. Before making a AtW request you must make sure an assessment has been carried out recently and make sure its recommendations have been addressed.

Bennett Workplace can help with one to one DSE Risk Assessments, risk assessment software and DSE Assessor training. Please call for further information. 01204 551822

Employer's Equality Act 2010 obligations

Employers not sure about their legal responsibilities refer them to the Equality and Human Rights Commission website or asked to phone the helpline, details are on the website.

The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on an employer to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. Access to Work funding cannot be used to support these changes. Before agreeing AtW support, AtW will confirm the employer is taking steps to support these changes. The fact that Jobcentre Plus agrees to provide AtW support does not mean that an employer has satisfied their duty under the Equality Act 2010.

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