Skip to main content

Support available to employees with a disability or underlying health condition

There are a number of different ways employees with a disability or underlying health condition can be supported to overcome any barrier they have to employment. As an employer there are schemes and support available to both you and the employee to work together to identify how best to make reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to fully participate at work.

There is funding available to support with these requirements, however the employee themselves must apply for Access to Work - you cannot apply on their behalf.

Access to Work helpline

Telephone: 0800 121 7479

Textphone: 0800 121 7579

NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479

Monday to Friday, 8am to 7.30pm

Identifying the barriers

One of the concerns for employers is that they worry that they won’t be able to identify barriers for a person with a disability; the first and most important step to take is to have a conversation with the employee with a disability to discuss their views on any barriers they are experiencing within the workplace.

Some examples of steps you can take to start to overcome barriers for employees are listed below:

  • Ask the employee what support they require and what environments /tasks can cause them a challenge. e.g. noise, sound, movement, changing settings, talking in a large group.
  • Provide the rules of the workplace or training setting.
  • Check for understanding. These should include clothing for different settings, times starting, breaks, etiquette for tea and coffee making, toilet breaks, how to address different colleagues.
  • Discuss specific adjustments as this will be dependent on each individual e.g. alternatives to note taking in meetings; avoidance of making presentations in front of others; need for one base/desk to work from.
  • Consider flexible working hours, such as starting early or staying late if this is a potential challenge e.g. noisy work environment, anxiety travelling when busy.
  • Ask the employee’s preferred means of communication when being given work e.g. verbal, written, email.
  • Discuss if they need assistance with organisation e.g. use of colour coding; diary reminders, setting alarms on computer/phone.
  • Discuss with the employee any particular environmental triggers and work to find reasonable solutions e.g. turn lights off, use of ear plugs.
  • Provide examples of templates/samples of letters and  pro forma reports showing what to expect and how they will look..
  • Feedback explicitly, and sensitively if there are challenges and agree on actions, record and provide this to the employee and agree review dates
  • Short and regular meetings are useful with one person.
  • Identify priorities for the day/week on a regular basis.
  • Discuss, where possible, expected work in advance.

Reasonable Adjustments

A reasonable adjustment can involve tackling any circumstances where a condition or provision, system or procedure by the organisation results in a employee with a disability or an individual applying for a role at the organisation, being at a considerable disadvantage in contrast to an individual who is not disabled.

It could also involve eliminating or changing a physical element of the working environment which, if not altered or removed, would result in a employee with a disability or an individual applying for a role at the organisation being at a considerable disadvantage in contrast to an individual who is without disability.

Providing support and help to people with disabilities can take a variety of forms. For example, specialist software, an adapted workstation, or improved access to the workplace, to ensure an employee, or an individual applying for a role at the organisation, would then not be at a considerable disadvantage in contrast to an individual who is not disabled.

Examples of reasonable adjustments include:

• Amending working hours

• Changing work location

• Additional training

• Time off work for treatment

• Specialist equipment

• Personal support

• Adjusting physical environment

• Allocating some duties to others.

Access to Work Grant Scheme

Access to Work is a government grant scheme which supports disabled people in work. Access to Work might pay for:

  • a British Sign Language interpreter
  • specialist equipment
  • extra transport costs, such as a taxi where no public transport is available

Access to Work can also pay for assessments to see what you need at work. You can apply for Access to Work up to 6 weeks before you start work.

Get an easy read guide to Access to Work (GOV.UK)

Who is eligible for Access to Work?

You must:

  • be over 16
  • have a condition or impairment that affects your ability to do your job or travel to work
  • be in or about to start paid work (this includes self-employment)
  • live and work in England, Scotland or Wales

Access to Work applies to any paid job. This includes part-time work, temporary work and work trials organised by Jobcentre Plus.

Check if you’re eligible for Access to Work (GOV.UK)

Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support

If you are claiming one of these benefits, you are eligible for Access to Work if you work for more than an hour a week.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you're claiming ESA and doing ‘permitted work’, you can get help from Access to Work

Apply for Access to Work

Your employer cannot apply for you. You must apply for Access to Work yourself. Talk to your employer and work out what adjustments they could make and how Access to Work could help.

Apply for Access to Work (GOV.UK)

When you apply, you will need to explain:

  • how your condition affects you
  • what help you are getting
  • what kind of help you think you need

You will also need to give:

  • the address and postcode of your workplace
  • the name of a workplace contact who can authorise your Access to Work payments

You can apply online, by phone or ask for a paper form. You can have someone with you to help you explain what’s needed.

Examples of what may be funded and what isn't funded through Access to Work

Examples of what may be funded

  • Specialist software, such as screen readers
  • A support worker, such as a driver or job coach
  • Adapted equipment, such as chairs and desks
  • Taxi journeys to and from work if you cannot use public transport

What's not covered by Access to Work

  • Changes that your employer must make under the Equality Act 2010 (reasonable adjustments)
  • Support that your employer has provided previously
  • Equipment that is standard for the job

Levels of funding through Access to Work

The level of the funding depends on:

  • if you’re employed or self-employed
  • how long you have been in your job
  • the type of help you need

Access to Work will normally pay 100% of the cost if any of these apply to you:

  • you have been in a job for less than 6 weeks
  • you are self-employed
  • you need funding for a support worker, travel to work or interviews, communication support at interviews

If you apply after you have been in the role for more than 6 weeks, your employer might need to contribute towards the cost of things paid for by Access to Work.

How much your employer pays depends on:

  • the cost of the adaptations
  • the size of the employer

Companies with under 49 employees

Your employer will contribute 20% of the costs up to £10,000. Access to Work will refund up to 80% of the approved costs up to £10,000.

Companies with 50 to 249 employees

Your employer will contribute the first £500 and 20% of the costs between £500 and £10,000. Access to Work will refund up to 80% of the approved costs between £500 and £10,000.

Companies with 250 employees and over

Your employer will contribute the first £1,000 and 20% of the costs between £1,000 and £10,000. Access to Work will refund up to 80% of the approved costs between £1,000 and £10,000.

Access to Work will normally pay any balance above £10,000. The most Access to Work will pay is £60,700 a year.

Access to Work funding is ongoing. Access to Work will review your circumstances and support needs after 3 years or if your condition changes.

Maintaining equipment

Your employer owns the equipment it buys through Access to Work and is also responsible for maintenance, insurance and disposal costs. You may be able to transfer the equipment if you start a new job with a different employer.

Work and Health Programme

The Work and Health Programme (WHP) was launched throughout England and Wales on a rolling basis between November 2017 and April 2018. It predominantly helps people with a wide range of health conditions or disabilities, as well as the long-term unemployed, and certain priority groups, to enter into and stay in work, using the expertise of private, public and voluntary, and community sector providers.

WHP providers are building strong links to national and local employers to identify employment needs, identify roles and provide more individual training to better match people’s skills to jobs. They also offer light touch in-work support from job start for the participant if they need it, and ensuring that appropriate arrangements for continuation of support, including Access to Work is in place before the provider support ends.

The local WHP for Bedford Borough is the Shaw Trust