Access to Work (AtW) support aims to help those with disabilities, including mental health conditions, and learning difficulties, to overcome work-related barriers. This government grant scheme seeks to create equality in the workplace and enable individuals with a disability to have choices, control, and independence at work. AtW offers a wide range of support, such as support workers, assistive equipment and software, a mental health support service, and help travelling to and from work. In this blog, we’ll provide a breakdown of AtW, which includes who can apply, the type of support available, and the application process.
Equality Act 2010
AtW defines disability as outlined in the Equality Act 2010. Disability is any physical or mental impairment that significantly impacts your day-to-day activities and has lasted for 12 months, will last for 12 months or is likely to reoccur. This definition can include mental health conditions, long-term health conditions, learning difficulties, developmental conditions, physical conditions, impairments, or disabilities.
In the workplace, employees can seek access to work support if their disabilities impact their work, but not their daily activities significantly. This act also requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for their employees who meet this definition. However, for additional support, employees can apply for AtW.
Social Model of Disability
It’s important that those with disabilities have equal access to opportunities, including work. AtW recognises that individuals who have physical or mental impairments are disabled by barriers in society. That is, physical barriers or attitudes that limit those with impairments to take part, or lead lives of independence.
This is known as the social model of disability and reflects the aims of the AtW scheme to produce accessible, supportive work environments that break down work-related barriers. It’s a good theory to reflect upon if you have a disability because it can help you recognise that you do deserve support to fulfil your job role. This kind of support is simply to help you overcome barriers that society has placed on you and can normalise the importance of accessible work environments.
What is Access to Work?
Access to Work is a government grant scheme that helps individuals to stay in, return to, or get work. This scheme is for those with a disability, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, and provides a range of practical support. This includes a dedicated mental health service and communication support at job interviews. AtW support will depend on your needs, which will be assessed using the application process, but the grant does not need to be paid back and is not affected by your earnings.
Who is eligible to apply?
You’re eligible to apply for the AtW scheme if you meet the following criteria:
- You need support to do your job or get to and from work because of a disability, mental health condition, or long-term health condition.
- You are 16 and over and currently live and work in England, Scotland, or Wales.
- If not currently at work, you can apply if you’re about to start work or return to work.
- You are in a paid part or full-time job, including employment, self-employment, internships, work placements, apprenticeships, work trials or experience.
Here are some examples of conditions that would be considered by AtW:
- Physical impairments, such as being deaf or hard of hearing,
- Physical disabilities where you may be a wheelchair user
- Learning disabilities or related conditions, such as Down syndrome
- Development conditions, like autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Long-term health conditions, including diabetes or epilepsy
- Learning difficulties or differences, such as ADHD or dyslexia
- Mental health conditions, including anxiety or depression
- Temporary illnesses, like a broken leg
This list is not exhaustive and is only to help give you some insight into the kinds of conditions that might make you eligible for access to work support.
How to Apply for Access to Work Support
Access to Work Form
First, you need to fill in an AtW form either online or over the phone. This form will ask for your contact information and workplace details. You will also be asked how your condition affects you, the kind of help and support you think you need, and what help you currently get.
You can include relevant evidence for certain conditions, such as a diagnostic report for a learning difficulty, or letters from a doctor or consultant regarding long-term health conditions or your mental health. If you’re due to start work within the next four weeks, your application is more likely to be prioritised. However, if you’re already at work, this can take up to 12 weeks and the amount you are eligible for will depend on how long you have been working.
If your initial application is approved based on the eligibility criteria, you will be contacted for further information by an AtW advisor. This call will be to gather more information about your condition and work and to seek permission to speak to your employer. Your AtW advisor might also help arrange a workplace needs assessment at this stage.
Workplace Needs Assessment
Once arranged, the workplace needs assessment can take place over the phone, via video call, or in person within your workplace. This assessment aims to identify challenges you may face at work and the kinds of support that would be ideal. Your assessor will draw up a report of recommendations that are based on your specific workplace needs. This report will be evaluated by your AtW advisor and you can seek to make changes to their specific recommendations if needed.
Access to Work Letter
Finally, you will receive a letter with a decision and an explanation for your recommendations. This will detail how much your grant award is and what it should pay for, including instructions on how to claim the grant and recommended support.
What support does Access to Work offer?
The Access to Work scheme offers a range of practical support, including:
- Travel support to cover costs of taxis or vehicle adaptions
- Training and mentoring
- Adapted equipment and hardware such as chairs, desks, keyboards, and alternative pointing devices for computers
- Communication support at job interviews
Employees can also benefit from personalised support such as:
Support Workers and Helpers
Access to work offers a range of personal support, including support workers, a job coach, personal care needs helpers, BSL interpreters, lip speakers, and note takers. These support workers or helpers can help you to fulfil your job role while managing your disability or condition.
Assistive Technology Softwares
There is a range of software and applications that can assist you in the workplace. This includes screen readers, text-to-speech software, captioning tools, productivity software, mind-mapping tools, cueing or memory aid software, and many more. For example, Jamworks is an AI-powered software that records, transcribes, and summarises meetings to create a more inclusive and accessible working environment.
Mental Health Support
AtW offers a free, confidential mental health support service that provides work-focused mental health support for up to 9 months. This service includes a personalised, tailored support plan that is designed to help you stay in, return to, or get work. You will get access to one-to-one sessions with a mental health professional and be given coping strategies that are based on your needs.
Meet Jamworks for Biz: AI-Powered Meeting Tool
Jamworks for Biz is an AI-powered tool that records, transcribes, and summarises meetings into key highlights and action items. This tool enables teams to experience productive meetings that are accessible to all.
Employees can worry less about meeting notes, capturing action items, and remembering meeting details. Instead, they can focus on engaging in their meetings and easily refer back to the meeting transcript, summarised highlights, or list of action items. Jamworks also offers a range of accessibility features, including closed captioning to improve employees’ meeting experiences.
For those with a disability, Jamworks can be a game-changing tool that saves time and allows them to prioritise action items. Here are a few benefits of using Jamworks for Biz:
- No information is lost if you zone out or struggle to concentrate
- Participate and focus on the meeting without worrying about notes
- Reduce information overload and let Jamworks generate key highlights and action items for you
- Leave meetings with a clear action plan
- Find information with ease when working on related projects
- Have access to meetings in a variety of formats, including subtitled video clips, audio snippets, and text-based summaries or transcripts
Click here to register your interest in Jamworks for Business and we will help you get set up applying for Access to Work Support!