Access to Work - practical help at work
Access to Work can help you if your health or disability affects the way you do your job. It gives you and your employer advice and support with extra costs which may arise because of your needs.
Access to Work might pay towards the equipment you need at work, adapting premises to meet your needs, or a support worker. It can also pay towards the cost of getting to work if you can't use trains or buses, and for a communicator at job interviews, if you need one.
Who can get Access to work
You may be able to get Access to Work if you are:
* in a paid job
* unemployed and about to start a job
and your disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job.
Your disability or health condition may not have a big effect on what you do each day, but may have a long-term effect on how well you can do your job. If you think that this applies to you, you should talk to an adviser.
Contacting your local Disability Employment Adviser
If you feel that the type of work you do is affected by a disability or health condition that is likely to last for 12 months or more, ask the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre about Access to Work. They can put you in touch with your closest Access to Work Business Centre to check whether you're eligible for help.
* Disability Employment Advisers
* Find your local Jobcentre Plus office
Getting help - the process
An Access to Work adviser will usually speak to you and your employer to reach a decision about the most effective support for you. In most cases, this can be done over the telephone, but a visit can be arranged if necessary.
Sometimes specialist advice may be needed, which the Access to Work adviser will help to arrange. For example, your adviser may arrange for a specialist organisation, such as the Royal National Institute of the Blind, to complete an assessment and recommend appropriate support.
In such cases, a confidential written report will be sent to the Access to Work adviser, who will use this information to help them decide on the right level of support.
Your employer's responsibilities
Once your adviser has decided on the package of support they feel is appropriate, they will seek formal approval of their recommendations from Jobcentre Plus. You and your employer will then receive a letter informing you of the approved level of support and the grant available.
It is the responsibility of your employer - or you if you are self-employed - to arrange the agreed support and purchase the necessary equipment. Your employer can then claim repayment of the approved costs from Access to Work.
Your Access to Work grant
The amount of help which you may receive from Access to Work will vary depending on how long you have been employed, what support you need and whether you are self-employed.
Access to Work can pay up to 100 per cent of the approved costs if you are:
* unemployed and starting a new job
* working for an employer and have been in the job for less than six weeks
Whatever your employment status, Access to Work will also pay up to 100 per cent of the approved costs of help with:
* support workers
* fares to work
* communicator support at interview
The level of support costs available
Access to Work pays a proportion of the costs of support if:
* you're working for an employer and
* you've been in the job for six weeks or more and
* you need special equipment or adaptations to premises
In these circumstances, your employer would be expected to pay the first £300 of the costs of support, plus a further minimum 20 per cent of the costs up to a ceiling of £10,000. Jobcentre Plus would pay the remaining amount up to a maximum of 80 per cent and up to 100 per cent of agreed costs over £10,000.
The precise level of cost sharing is agreed between your employer and the Access to Work adviser.
All help provided is for a maximum period of three years, after which the Access to Work Business Centre will review your circumstances and the support you're receiving.
Communication support includes advocacy, British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, lipspeakers and notetakers.
* Communication support for deaf people