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Document updated/added on 07.11.2020

Topic: Personnel management

Access to Work memo
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Access to Work memo

Access to Work memo

If any of your staff has a disability or long-term health condition, it’s worth drawing their attention to Access to Work. Our memo can be used here.

What’s Access to Work?

Access to Work is a government-funded scheme which provides grants to employees (including apprentices, but not volunteers) who: (1) have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition which makes it hard for them to do parts of their job or get to and from work; (2) are aged 16 or over; and (3) live and work in England, Scotland or Wales.

Support available

The grant can pay for such items or services as special equipment or software, adaptations to the equipment that the employee uses, support worker services or a job coach to help them in the workplace, mental health support, adaptations to their vehicle so they can get to work and the cost of taxi fares to and from work if they can’t use public transport. The employee can also apply for equipment at home if they’re a homeworker for some or all of their time.


The employee needs to make the application themselves, which they can either do online or through the Access to Work helpline. Once they’ve applied, an adviser will contact them. The advisor may also contact you if the employee has agreed to this and may want to visit your workplace to assess the employee’s needs. If the employee is awarded a grant, they’ll be advised how much they’ll get and for how long. Either you or them will then buy the items or services needed and Access to Work will pay the money back, up to the amount of the grant and with any contributions (such as employer or NHS contributions) deducted. How much the employee gets depends on their circumstances. The grant doesn’t have to be paid back.

Duty to make reasonable adjustments

Access to Work doesn’t replace your statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees to make sure that they’re not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with non-disabled employees - see our Disability Agreed Adjustments Record. Rather, it provides grants for extra help at work that isn’t covered by your making reasonable adjustments. That said, as what constitutes a “reasonable adjustment” is a bit of a grey area, the scheme might pay for more than you think and so could indirectly save you money.

Memo contents

Our Access to Work Memo sets out the basics of the scheme, covering eligibility, what the employee might get and how they apply. It then encourages them to apply for a grant if they think they need extra help, and to keep their line manager informed if they do. It’s important you issue the memo to all your staff, not just to those whom you believe are disabled, as not only could that constitute discrimination but also the ambit of the scheme is potentially wider than just those who have a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

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