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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-guide-for-employers/access-to-work-factsheet-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, Access to Work:
- 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
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 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
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.
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.
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 can apply to get Access to Work support. However, they must prove that the company is registered with Companies House in Cardiff.
How much will this cost me?
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.
|Number of employees||Amount of threshold|
|0 to 49 employees||nil|
|50 to 249 employees||£500|
|Over 250 employees||£1000|
Any balance above £10,000 will normally be met by Access to Work.
If the support also provides a general business benefit, a contribution will be sought in addition to any compulsory cost share.
Maximum amount of grants
Access to Work grants awarded on or after 1 October 2015 are capped. The amount of the cap depends on when the grant was awarded or reviewed.
|Grant awarded or reviewed||Amount of cap per year|
|1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016||£40,800|
|1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017||£41,400|
|1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018||£42,100|
|1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019||£57,200|
Currently Access to Work grants awarded before 1 October 2015 are not capped. They will be capped from 1 April 2018.
How someone can claim
Your employee can apply for Access to Work if they need help and support to get them back to work.
The quickest and easiest way to apply is online at www.gov.uk/access-to-work
They can also apply by phoning Jobcentre Plus on:
Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
Your employee will be asked what help and support they need when they apply, Access to Work will also contact you for more information.
When your employee contacts the Access to Work team, 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 us:
Access to Work
Operational Support Unit
Harrow Jobcentre Plus
Mail Handling Site A
Wolverhampton WV98 1JE
Reconsideration, Review and Complaints Procedure
What if your employee does not agree with the level of their award?
Access to Work is decided on a case to case level and the amount awarded is based on discussions with you and with your employee. This means that it is not possible to appeal against the level of an award.
However, the Access to Work scheme does have a reconsideration policy. Everybody is entitled to one reconsideration of an award by a different Access to Work Adviser. Please ask your employee to use the contact details at the top of their award letter if they want to arrange this.
What if things change?
If your employee’s job role has changed, they can ask for their award to be reviewed. This can take place as many times as their situation changes, and they will still be able to get their award looked at again if they do not agree with the level of the reviewed award.
How do I or my employee complain?
Not agreeing with the level of the award and the results of reconsideration does not, on its own, give enough reason for a complaint. However, if you or your employee have had poor customer service or think the Access to Work claim has not been handled correctly, a complaint can be made using our complaints procedure.
This factsheet gives general information only and is not a complete and authoritative statement of the law.