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

Email:  atwosu.london@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Viki Chinn, AGCAS Disability Task Group, LSE Careers.


Reasonable adjustments at interview


Requesting that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made for disabled applicants at interview ensures equality of opportunity. Clearly what is appropriate will vary in relation to the sort of post applied for and for each individual. When working with disabled students and graduates a good starting point is to explore the support given and coping strategies which they used to undertake their course at university and also whether there are aspects of the selection process which concern them.

It’s important that candidates’ check what format the interview will take. Will this be a one to one or a panel interview; will psychometric tests be involved; is there a group discussion or a presentation and are there any written tasks? Clearly in order for an employer to make the appropriate adjustments the applicant will need to have disclosed their disability.  There is however, no obligation for them to do this prior to the offer of an interview, unless they are applying to a √√ user and want to take advantage of the interview guarantee scheme.

Adjustments which a disabled candidate might commonly request in the selection process could include allowing extra time on psychometric tests or written exercises, or making materials used available in an appropriate format. It could also be appropriate to ask for short breaks between the various selection elements, especially for candidates whose disability affects the speed of information processing and in some cases, written not verbal instructions.  

Issues such as the layout of the interview room and access to specialist software may be important for a visually impaired candidate, whilst the support of an interpreter may be appropriate for an individual who has a hearing impaired. For those with Asperger Syndrome having clear and precise details of the interview arrangements in advance is important, as is ensuring that there are no unexpected changes to the  schedule. There might also be adjustments needed to the lighting, ventilation or temperature, as some disabled applicants are hypersensitive to sensory input.

Hilary Whorrall, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of Sheffield Careers Service.


Get that Job – The new AGCAS video for disabled students and graduates


The Disability Task Group is pleased to announce the release of Get that Job, which is aimed at supporting students and graduates in their transition from university into employment.
The video looks at the following areas,

– identifying disability-friendly employers
– applying for work
– disclosing a disability
– adjustments in the workplace

Get that Job features opinion from disabled graduates who discuss their experiences of moving from university into their jobs.  They talk through their feelings and experiences of the recruitment process, the pros and cons of the notoriously grey area of disclosure, as well as their advice for present students.

To assist present students with finding the right employer and the transition into the workplace we also have the perspective of employers from different sectors, a specialist Disability Careers Adviser and a representative of the not-for-profit organisation EmployAbility.

Additionally we also look at adjustments in the workplace.  Although need in this area vary hugely depending on the individual, some of our graduates discuss those they have in place.  For adjustments where there may be a cost, there is also information and advice on obtaining funding.

Overall we feel this video is really able to assist the nearly 10% of graduates* who disclose a disability with their career journey after university.

The programme was made possible by generous support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Shell International and Microlink PC. For further details take a look at,

(* AGCAS Disability Task Group report, 10 years on – 2013)

Mark Allen