As an employer, you must ensure that the working environment is adequately suited for all current and future employees. First Class Support provides a wide variety of support roles for disabled employees within the workplace. This is either paid directly by the employer, or under the Access to Work scheme.

Access to Work is a scheme run by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The scheme provides practical support and advice to disabled people and employers to help overcome work related obstacles resulting from a disability.

The funds received from Access to Work can pay towards any extra employment costs that result from a disability. If one of your employees, or new starters, has a disability then Access to Work may be able to help. It applies to any paid job, part-time or full-time, permanent or temporary. There is no minimum number of hours of eligibility for support under the scheme.

It is provided where an individual requires support or adaptations beyond the reasonable adjustments which an employer is legally obliged to provide under the Equality Act.

Specifically, Access to Work can help you retain an employee who develops a disability or long-term condition and recruit new employees who are disabled. Access to Work can support you in a number of ways. For example, it can provide funds towards:

  • Specialist aids, equipment and software.
  • Adaptations to equipment.
  • Training in the use of any specialist equipment or software.
  • Travel to work and travel required within work.
  • A wide variety of support roles.

If you require any support for your staff, FCS can provide this. Employers then receive an Access to Work grant to reimburse the cost of the support that is needed. Depending on the size of your business, generally employers do not have to pay anything towards employment support. Access to work will normally meet 100 per cent of the costs of any adaptations, equipment or training for small businesses (less than 50 employees).

To apply for Access to Work, the application is made by the employee, but you can of course help facilitate this process. The employee should contact the Operational Support Unit directly. Contact details can be found on the GOV.UK website.

The sooner Access to Work knows about the request for support, the more time they will have to ensure everything is in place when the employee starts. The Access to Work Advisor will need some detailed information, and it will help if you make sure the employee making the application has the following information to hand:

An assessor will visit the workplace to identify exactly what is required to support the employee. The assessor can produce a formal document detailing what support is required. There should always be a formal report as a result of an assessment.