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      Access to Work – employers' guidance

      An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to help people who have a disability or long-term health condition start or stay in work. Here’s how it can help you hire and retain employees who are deaf or have hearing loss.

      The information on this page is adapted from the Department for Work & Pensions Access to Work’ factsheet, which was updated 4 April 2018.

      What is Access to Work?

      Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme that provides practical and financial support to people who have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition, so they start or stay in work. Support can be provided where someone needs help or adaptations beyond reasonable adjustments.

      The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not covered by Access to Work, and there is a different Access to Work programme in Northern Ireland.

      Access to work helped the station implement adjustments to help me.

      How can it help my employees who are deaf or have hearing loss?

      Access to Work can help you:

      • hire someone who is deaf or has hearing loss with the skills you need
      • retain an employee who develops hearing loss (keeping their valuable skills and saving both time and money recruiting a replacement)
      • show that you value and will support your employees by having good employment policies and practices.

      Your prospective and existing employees can get help paying for support they may need because of their deafness or hearing loss, such as:

      • assistive technology in the workplace such as a hearing loop system
      • communication support at interviews and work.

      Access to Work doesn’t provide the support itself, but provides a grant to reimburse the cost of the support that’s needed.

      Who can get Access to Work?

      To be eligible for help, a person must:

      • have hearing loss or deafness that has a negative impact on their ability to do their job
      • be over 16 years old
      • be in, or about start, paid employment
      • normally live and work in Great Britain (or Northern Ireland if they apply for Access to Work there)
      • not be claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance once they are in work.

      The person’s hearing loss or deafness must affect their ability to do the job or mean they have to pay work-related costs.

      How much will it cost me?

      As an employer, you may have to share the cost with Access to Work if the person has been working with you for more than six weeks when they apply for Access to Work.

      You will only have to share the cost for:

      • special aids and equipment
      • adaptations to premises or equipment.

      How much will the grant be?

      The value of the grant that the employee receives depends how long they have been in their job and the type of help required. As an employer, you may also have to cover some of the costs, depending on factors such as the size of your organisation.

      Access to Work will consider paying grants of up to 100% for:

      • people who have been working for less than six weeks when they first apply for Access to Work
      • communication support at interviews.

      Access to Work grants are capped at an annual limit of £57,200 per person.

      What will my share of the costs be?

      When cost sharing applies, Access to Work will refund up to 80% of the approved costs between a threshold and £10,000. As the employer, you will contribute 100% of costs up to the threshold level and 20% of the costs between the threshold and £10,000.

      The amount of the threshold is determined by the number of employees you have.

      Number of employees

      Amount of threshold

      0 to 49 employees

      nil

      50 to 249 employees

      £500

      Over 250 employees

      £1000

      Any balance above £10,000 will normally be met by Access to Work.


      How can someone claim?

      Your employee will need to apply for an Access to Work grant. They should submit their application at the earliest possible opportunity.

      If they live in England, Scotland or Wales, your employee can find out more about Access to Work, check their eligibility, and apply online at gov.uk, the government services and information website. If they live in Northern Ireland, they can visit nidirect, the Northern Ireland government services website.

      Your employee will be asked what help and support they need when they apply, and Access to Work will also contact you for more information. Your employee will receive an assessment that matches their needs with the correct support and an appropriate budget will be set.

      Steve Mintern

      “Ten years ago, my hearing was wiped out overnight. My greatest fear was that I would no longer be able to be out there fighting fires.”

      Read Steve's story

      Free Employers' toolkit

      Our toolkit contains a handy guide for employers, plus a selection of posters, to help you create a more inclusive workplace for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

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