Scrase Law Employment Solicitors

Access to Work scheme – updated guidance

The Government has updated the guidance for employers on the Access to Work scheme with a specific section dealing with Access to Work during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme provides grants to help disabled people start or stay in work.  To be eligible for an Access to Work grant, a person must have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition that means they need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do their job.  The employee must make the initial application, which can be done online or by telephone.

An employee can get a grant of up to £60,700 per year.  The grant can pay for practical support that an employee may need because of their disability or long term health condition.  This could include, for example, equipment in the workplace, money towards extra travel costs to and from work, a sign language interpreter, and the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. 

The updated guidance confirms in particular that:

  • employees affected by the Coronavirus outbreak may be able to get help with working from home, in the workplace, or a combination of both;
  • if employees cannot use public transport safely because of their disability or health condition and their doctor or healthcare professional supports this, funding may be available for extra travel costs;
  • the scheme can provide funding for remote support services, such as video remote interpreting or British Sign Language interpreting; and
  • the time limit for claiming for costs has increased from 6 months to 9 months because of coronavirus.

Comment

Employers have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to help disabled job applicants, employees and former employees in certain circumstances.  The Access to Work scheme can provide practical support where someone needs help or adaptations beyond reasonable adjustments. 

This guidance provides important information for employers, and may be particularly relevant where employees are either being asked to work from home or who have requested to do so.

05 October 2020

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