Access to Work factsheet for employers

Updated 13 June 2023

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales


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

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to enable your employee to start or 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.

Access to Work can be used for flexible working arrangements, such as hybrid working. This can include:

  • support to work from more than one location
  • support for working at home for all or part of your time

How can it help me?

Access to Work can support you to:

  • hire disabled people with the skills you need
  • retain an employee who develops a disability or health 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 support with the extra costs of working they may have because of their disability or health condition, for example:

  • aid and equipment in the workplace
  • adapting equipment to make it easier for them to use
  • money towards any extra travel costs to and from work if they can’t use available public transport
  • money towards any extra travel costs for travel costs within work
  • an interpreter or other support at a job interview where there are difficulties in communicating
  • a wide variety of support workers
  • the Access to Work 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 agreed cost of the support that is needed.

Mental Health Support Service

The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service:

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

Who can get Access to Work

To be eligible for support, a person must:

  • have a disability or health condition that means they need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do their job
  • have a mental health condition and need support in work
  • be 16 or over
  • be in, or about to start, paid employment (including self-employment)
  • normally resident in, and working in, England, Scotland or Wales – there is a different system in Northern Ireland
  • 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.

If the person is a civil servant, their employer will provide support instead of Access to Work.

Their condition

If their disability or health condition affects their ability to do the job or they have to pay work-related costs. For example, special computer equipment or extra travel costs because they can’t use public transport.

If an employee has a mental health condition that affects their ability to do the job, and support is required to:

  • start a new job
  • reduce absence from work
  • stay in work

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 employer, 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 England, Scotland or Wales, but you ask them to travel out of the country as part of their duties, Access to Work support may be available, but any support may be limited.

Supported internships/traineeships

Young people who start a work placement with an employer as part of the Department for Education supported internship programme or a 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.

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 6 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 6 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 £1,000

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
1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 £59,200
1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 £60,700
1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 £62,900
1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 £65,180
1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024 £66,000

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 support to get them back to work.

Apply online

The quickest and easiest way to apply for Access to Work is online.

Apply by phone

They can also apply by phoning the Access to Work helpline on:

Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579

Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Find out about call charges

British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service

British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service if you’re on a computer - find out how to use the service on mobile or tablet

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Further information

Your employee will be asked what 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 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)

How we can communicate with you

If you find it hard to read our letters, complete our forms or use a phone we have many different ways we can communicate with you.

If you would like us to communicate with you by braille, British Sign Language, a hearing loop, translations, large print, audio, email or something else please contact us.

You can contact us Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm by:

Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579

Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Find out about call charges

Or write to us at:

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

Find more information about getting help with benefits and pensions if you have accessibility needs.

After making an application


After your employee makes an application for Access to Work, a case manager will contact you and your employee to discuss what help might be available. Your employee may need an assessment of the workplace to assess their needs.

If your employee knows what support is needed, they do not need to have an assessment. An Access to Work case manager will discuss the award with you and your employee to develop a tailored package of support.

If your employee needs to have an assessment, it will be carried out by telephone, an online video call or in person within the workplace.

If your employee cannot use the telephone or video call, contact the organisation that is arranging the assessment to agree another way to have the assessment. This could be through an online British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting service or an online video service.

If your employee needs to rearrange or cancel an assessment, contact the organisation that has arranged the assessment with your employee.

Support workers

Your employee can continue to use their existing support worker while working from home.

If your employee needs to cancel a support worker at short notice and are charged a fee, Access to Work may be able to meet those costs.


If your employee uses a BSL interpreter and they cannot visit their home, Access to Work could help pay for an online BSL interpreting service.

Your employee needs to tell Access to Work if they change the type of support they are using. For example, if your employee starts using an online interpreting service instead of a BSL support worker.

If your employee’s interpreter can provide interpreting services online, they can still be paid for this. Access to Work will not be able to pay for any travel time, if they are not travelling to support your employee.

If your employee’s support worker cannot support them at the moment

If your employee’s support worker cannot support them because they are sick, your employee may still be able to claim payment for them. Your employee’s Access to Work award will need to include payment for their support worker while they are off sick.

Your employee cannot get support from Access to Work to pay for their support worker if they are sick but payment for their sickness is not included in your employee’s Access to Work award. They may be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

Travel costs

Access to Work can only pay towards travel costs needed because of your employee’s disability or health condition.

If your employee is no longer travelling to work, your employee should not claim for any travel support. Your employee can start receiving support towards travel when they start travelling to work again.

Claiming for costs

Your employee has 9 months to claim for costs.

Supported internships

If your employee is on a Department for Education supported internship, Access to Work can continue to provide support for any work-related support they need. It cannot fund any educational support your employee needs.

If your employees support needs change

If the support your employee needs has changed, for example because they have started to work from home and need extra support, they need to tell Access to Work.

To report a change, your employee needs to contact the Access to Work helpline.

An Access to Work case manager will discuss working from home with you and your employee to understand what support is needed. If they cannot identify the support needed, they will put your employee in touch with a workplace assessor. They will work with you and your employee to recommend how to overcome the in work barriers.

Your employee will need to continue reporting any changes to their circumstances because the amount of their grant award may be affected.

If your employee needs extra support but have reached or have nearly reached the maximum amount of the grant awarded, they will need to speak to an Access to Work case manager. Your employee can continue to get a grant of up to £66,000 a year. If your employee has not yet spent all the award, an Access to Work case manager can work with them to agree how to spend the rest of the money.

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 case manager. 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.


Access to Work will contact your employee 12 weeks before their support is due to end. If your employee would like support to continue, your employee will need to apply to renew it.

This factsheet gives general information only and is not a complete and authoritative statement of the law.