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Access to Work

Access to Work

Access to Work

Access to Work

Access to Work

Access to Work provides funding towards reasonable adjustments and support for people whose disability impacts on their employment. It covers items such as additional training, travel costs and services, support or equipment.  

The responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for staff under the Equality Act 2010 remains with the University of Exeter.

It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that reasonable adjustments are in place and to provide support for the individual.

Access to Work applies to any paid job, apprenticeship or voluntary role: part-time or full time, permanent or temporary. It also applies to job applicants who require support with the application or interview process.

Applying for Access to Work

Full information about the programme and how to apply can be found the government website . The information below is designed as a guide.

You can also find helpful information about the application process on the Diversity and Ability webpages

You are eligible for the programme if your disability, physical or mental health condition is likely to last for 12 months or longer. I.e. if you are disabled according to the definition in the Equality Act 2010.

Note Applications for Access to Work can only be made by the employee themselves and not by anybody else on their behalf. 

The University of Exeter recruitment team are happy to accommodate reasonable adjustments during the application and interview process. This may include application forms in a different format, relocation of physical interviews or a change in the process.

If you need additional adjustments, please contact Access to Work.

If you are comfortable to do so, it would be good to discuss your needs with your manager in advance of your start date. Please discuss your Access to Work application with your manager. To ensure that support is in place before you start work contact Access to Work as soon as possible after you accept the job offer. If you contact Access to Work before you start or within the first six weeks of employment, the majority of reasonable adjustments you may require should be in place. 

You will be asked to complete a Pre-employment Questionnaire as part of your pre-employment pack and this is an opportunity to contact Occupational Health and start the discussion about what reasonable adjustments you may require. It is always advisable to discuss your needs with OH and/or your new line manger to make sure you get the support you need ahead of time.

You will also need update the Sensitive Information section on iTrent which is your personal access to the personal details held for you on the Univeristy's HR system. This information is confidential and only the following people are able access it: TBC

Access to Work funding is available even if you have been in your job for an extended period of time. Many disabilities can develop over the course of a working life.  If you find that you need additional support it’s important to discuss your requirements with your manager before applying for Access to Work.  They may ask you to talk to Occupational Health for recommendations, adjustment, or support.

When you apply to Access to Work, someone in your department will need to act as the Access to Work workplace contact: this will usually be your manager. The contact is required to deal with the Access to Work administration. 

The first step is to contact Access to Work directly either by telephone, email or in writing. Full details can be found on the website

Access to Work will request some basic identification information including

  • contact details
  • National Insurance number
  • Workplace address, including your postcode
  • The name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact (e.g. line manager)

Access to Work helpline

  • Telephone: 0800 121 7479
  • Textphone: 0800 121 7579
  • Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

You can also apply online

 You can also apply for Access to Work mental Health support using these Access to Work contact details

The Access to Work process

An Adviser will contact you to discuss your needs and will make recommendations for reasonable adjustments. The assessor may be an Access to Work officer, contractor or employment specialist (for example, for sight and hearing loss).                                                                                 

A report will be written recommending the approved reasonable adjustments and the costs involved. It will be sent to you and your manager/University contact.

The report will include a final figure for the cost of the necessary adjustments to your employer. It will also document suggested suppliers. Sometimes the University will have their own approved suppliers.

The division of these cost will be agreed and the University can apply for reimbursement of their contribution through supplied documentation.

The equipment can be purchased as soon as permission has been granted. The University can then apply for reimbursement of Access to Work's agreed contribution with supplied documentation.

The equipment is the responsibility of, and is owned by, the University of Exeter. Access to Work will not pay for repairs or insurance under any circumstances.

Note Do not buy anything before the University and Access to Work have agreed to refund costs.

Funding and Grants

Funding levels will depend on length of employment and support needs:

  • Job applicants and new recruits in the job for less than six weeks: up to 100% of the approved costs will be paid.
  • Those accessing the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service: up to 100% of approved costs will be paid.
  • In the job for six weeks or more:  costs will usually be shared by Access to Work and University of Exeter. 

Whatever the employment status of the applicant, Access to Work pays up to 100% of the approved costs to help with:

  • support workers
  • communicator support at an interview
  • travel to and from work (above the normal costs) and travel within work, if required. Note this may not be the case for some national or international travel.

Maximum amount of grants - Access to Work grants awarded on or after 1 October 2015 are capped. The amount of the cap depends on when your grant was awarded or last reviewed. For further information please review the Access to Work website.

Examples of reasonable adjustment funding:

  1. Costs up to £1,000.  A member of staff with chronic pain has been assessed as needing specialist office equipment including a custom-built chair. Overall cost £700- total cost met by the University of Exeter.
  2. Costs between £1,000 and £10,000.  A member of staff with significant visual impairment has had a specialist assessment through Access to Work and has been recommended specialist visual aids costing £6,500 with an additional £1,300 training costs to enable them to use the equipment effectively.
    Overall cost £7,800: 20% of the costs to be paid by the University of Exeter (£1,560) and 80% of costs (£6,240) covered by Access to Work.
  3. Costs over £10,000. A staff member has sustained life changing injuries in a motor vehicle accident and requires significant adaptations and reasonable adjustments. This includes the provision of a motorised wheelchair, an assistant at work, specialist desk equipment and physical changes to allow access to teaching space and offices.
    • Motorised wheelchair negotiations to split cost between individual member of staff and Access to Work. Rationale is because the wheelchair will be used at work and at home cost split 2/7 employee, 5/7 Access to Work
    • Assistant at work (work-related duties only- not personal care) paid for by Access to Work based on costings provided by the University of Exeter (including cost of employment).
    • Desk equipment - cost covered by Access to Work
    • Adaptations to buildings including pushbutton doors, ramps paid for and implemented by Estate’s team

Access to Work may fund Travel to work and travel in work. These costs are rarely funded up front. People are generally expected to make some contribution to travel costs (often equivalent to bus fare).  People are required to finance the costs of transport then claim this money back from Access to Work.

Examples transportation grants

  • Visual impairment-preventing use of own transport and lack of availability of public transport
  • Anxiety preventing driving or use of public transport
  • Increased risk of infection due to cancer treatments or vulnerability to COVID-19 making use of public transportation inadvisable

Access to Work may fund the cost of one-to-one support in certain circumstances.

Purchasing Equipment and Reimbursement

The relationship is between the employee, who has been awarded the grant, and Access to Work in regard to claiming funds.

All purchases for equipment should be made through the standard University purchasing routes. The Access to Work claim form does allow for the company (The University) details to be added so that payment can be made direct. This should be followed for all claims.

It is the employee and manager’s responsibility to complete the claim process with the support from the Faculty/Service Operational Support Teams (Key Contacts).

The employee and their manager should contact their Faculty or Service Key Contact who will purchase the equipment on their behalf and keep invoices etc. in preparation for processing a claim from the employees Access to Work grant.

Once the equipment is purchased and received, the employee claims money from their Access to Work grant - online or by post. Access to Work will provide instruction on how this is to be completed. The Key Contact will provide the purchase evidence e.g. invoices and other required information to the employee in order to submit the claim. Once the claim is submitted the Key Contact will complete a separate form which will be sent to the Banking Operations Team to enable them to process any reimbursement to the correct cost centre.

It is the employee and manager’s responsibility with their Faculty/Service Operational Support Team to complete the claim process.