Access to Work – Meeting the cost of workplace adjustments

Access to Work
Access to Work

Disclosing a disability to a potential employer can be daunting enough on its own but having to ask for costly adjustments such as assistive technology, adapted furniture, or support personnel can lead to additional anxiety or concerns for a disabled applicant.

Access to Work is here to help!

What is Access to Work I hear you shout? (Well actually I don’t as I am deaf but if you shout loud enough my ATW funded reporter will hear and pass the question on). So what is it, who gets it, how much can you get, and how do you access it?

What is it?

Access to Work (ATW) is a government scheme that will pay for most adjustments that are required once a person is in paid employment. It covers all paid employment including internships and work placements, full time and part time work, and permanent or temporary roles. It will even cover the cost of communication support at interview but it is worth noting that this is the only cost they will meet at interview stage.

There are a number of ways in which ATW can help. Examples include:

  • Paying for a support worker. Types of support might include reading to a visually impaired person, communication support for a hearing impaired person via a Sign Language interpreter, Speech to Text Reporter, Lipspeaker or Electronic Notetaker
  • Providing specialist coaching for a person with learning difficulties or helping a person with care needs
  • Special aids equipment to help a disabled person perform their role in the work place;
  • Adaptation to premises or to existing equipment
  • Help with the additional costs of travel to, or in, work for people who are unable to use public transport

Who gets it?

Access To Work is available for any disabled worker who meets the following criteria:

  • Has a disability or health condition that has a long term substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out their job
  • Is over 16 years old
  • Is in, or about to start, paid employment (including self-employment)
  • Normally lives and works in Great Britain, and
  • Is not claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance once they are in work.

As said this covers any type of paid employment regardless of length of contract, however, it does not cover people undertaking voluntary work or unpaid placements.

How much can you get and how do you get it?

It is important to submit an application for ATW support as soon as you have accepted a job offer as it can take some time for the adjustments to be sourced and implemented in the work place. The time in which you make a claim can also affect the amount of funding given.

ATW will pay up to 100% of costs for adjustments when the claim is made within the first 6 weeks of Employment and, additionally, will consider paying 100% of costs for the following support regardless of when the claim is made:

  • Additional costs of travel to work for people who are unable to use public transport;
  • Support worker or reader to assist in the workplace;
  • Communicator for support at job interviews.
  • The Mental Health Support Service

Additionally it will consider paying up to 100% of costs for self-employed people.

The level of grant will depend on whether the person is employed or self-employed, how long the claimant has been in their job, and the type of help required.

For those who have been in work more than six weeks and require support other than that listed above the employer may be asked to contribute up to 20% of the cost depending on the size of organisation.

The application process is relatively straightforward. The disabled employee makes the application by contacting the Customer Service Team on 0345 268 8489.   The team will take basic information and pass to an ATW Adviser. It is a telephone based service but alternative arrangements can be made if appropriate and required.

The ATW Adviser will contact the customer within 7 days to progress the application and discuss the support that may be needed in the work environment. Once support is agreed the customer will sign a Customer Declaration Form.

The Customer Service Team can be contacted on:

Telephone: 0345 268 8489

Textphone: 0845 608 8753


Viki Chinn, AGCAS Disability Task Group, LSE Careers.


2 thoughts on “Access to Work – Meeting the cost of workplace adjustments

  1. Vikki – this is a really comprehensive and informative blog and much appreciated! I’ve circulated a link to all members of staff in University of Sheffield Careers Service!

    Best wishes


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