Eligibility

To be eligible, you must:

  • Have an impairment or health condition that has a long-term substantial adverse effect on your ability to carry out your job
  • Be over 16 years old
  • Be in, or about to start, paid employment - including self-employment - or a work trial
  • Normally live and work in Great Britain
  • Not be claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance once you are in work

Access to Work applies to any paid job which is part-time or full-time, permanent or temporary. There are no minimum hours that must be worked to be eligible.

Support that may be provided

  • Special aids and equipment 
  • Adaptations to equipment
  • Travel to work - you may need to contribute what you would normally have to pay for travel to and from work
  • Travel in work - depends on the type of travel and what the employer would normally be paying
  • Communication support at interviews
  • A wide variety of support workers
  • Awareness training for colleagues
  • Alterations to premises
  • The Mental Health Support Service

The Mental Health Support Service

The Mental Health Support Service supports employees with depression, anxiety, stress or other mental health problems affecting their work.

It offers eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and develop a support plan to make sure they can stay in employment. It also offers advice and guidance to help managers understand mental illness and how they can support staff.

The service also supports people with a mental health problem who are looking for work, returning to work after a period of absence relating to their condition or finding work difficult because of their condition.

If the person is employed on a Work Choice Programme then Access to Work will not fund a support worker. This is the responsibility of the Work Choice provider.

Levels of funding

The level of the funding will depend on:

  • Whether you are employed or self-employed
  • How long you have been in your job and
  • The type of help that is required

If you have been employed for less than six weeks when you apply for support, or if you are self-employed, then the funding will usually be at 100%. Funding will also usually be at 100% for the Mental Health Support Service, support workers, additional travel to work and travel or communication support at interviews.

If you have been working in a role for more than six weeks when you submit your application, there will need to be some contribution from the employer if the recommendation is to provide special aids and equipment or adaptations to premises and equipment. The level of the contribution will depend on the overall cost of the equipment or adaptation and the size of the employer.

When a contribution is required, Access to Work will refund up to 80% of the approved costs between a threshold and £10,000. Your employer will contribute 100% of the 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 your employer has.

  • 0 to 49 employees nil
  • 50 to 249 employees £500
  • Over 250 employees £1,000

Any balance above £10,000 will normally be met by Access to Work although If the support also gives a general business benefit, a contribution will be sought on top of any compulsory contributions.

Timescales

Access to Work funding is ongoing, but a review of your circumstances and support needs will take place if further funding is needed after three years.

Access to Work will aim to arrange support for you as soon as possible, but the length of time will depend on individual circumstances. Any major delays should be discussed with your adviser and if necessary temporary alternatives put in place.

Applying for Access to Work

Funding is not available retroactively. Access to Work will not refund costs from making reasonable adjustments up to this point. When you apply for Access to Work, you'll be sent a copy of the information to sign and return. When this is received, you’ll be given an Access to Work adviser.

You can have support from your employer to make the application, but it must be you who makes contact with Access to Work.

Depending on the support you need, an assessor or specialist may come to your workplace. Sometimes the assessor will just phone you. It depends on the nature of your request. Let your manager know when this meeting will happen, in case they are needed. 

After the meeting, the assessor will write a report and make recommendations. This report will be sent to you and a summary to your manager. You should then discuss the best way to implement the recommendations. It’s up to you whether you share the full report with your line manager – it often helps to.

Tips for completing the application form

  • Have all your personal details at hand - National Insurance Number, address, telephone numbers and so on.
  • Have the full address, including postcode, of where you work or will work, manager’s name, job title, contact telephone number and if relevant, your start date.
  • Be prepared to explain your condition and how it affects you at work. You will need to demonstrate it affects your ability to do the job.
  • Think about what things could be put in place to help you, for example, taxi to work. See reasonable adjustments.
  • Think about what might happen if you are not able to get support – try to base this on past experiences, with examples if possible.
  • Applying by phone is only one option – you can request a paper form, or you could have someone with you to help make the call and explain the details required.

Equipment

Where you or your employer need to buy equipment, invoices can be sent to Access to Work if they are fully funding it. If Access to Work is part-funding equipment, your employer should pay in full and invoice Access to Work for their contribution.

Your employer owns the equipment it buys through Access to Work. They are responsible for maintenance, insurance or disposal costs when required.

Contact our helpline

25% of all working-age disabled people are unemployed but would like to work.