This is a guide aimed at staff who wish to apply for Access to Work (AtW), but is also useful for those who want to know more about the process.

We recommend that you read the information on this page fully before applying for the grant and let the Occupational Health (OH) team and your manager or Employee Relations Adviser know as soon as possible if you wish to make an application. 

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work (AtW) is a government funded employment support grant scheme that aims to support people who have a disability or long term physical or mental health condition to start or stay in work, by providing practical and financial support.
easy read version of the AtW website is also available for those with learning disabilities or who have difficulties reading. 

The application to AtW needs to be made directly by you as the staff member who needs support.  If you are new in post, please aim to make this application within the first 6 weeks of your employment.

 (Updated February 2024) 

University of Essex Access to Work procedure

Although you can apply for a grant at any time, to avoid delays in receiving your equipment you should follow the University's Access to Work Procedure.

  1. Check eligibility - Confirm your eligibility to apply for the grant.
  2. Make Occupational Health aware - If you think are eligible, please ask your line manager or Employee Relations Adviser to complete a referral to Occupational Health.
  3. Occupational Health appointment - In your meeting with an Occupational Health Advisor they will be able to identify if you will benefit from applying to Access to Work. 
  4. Make your application - Once you have had a referral appointment with Occupational Health where it is recommended that you would benefit from making an application, you can start the application process. Please ensure you name Occupational Health ( as your main contact so that we receive the communications from Access to Work. Please note the University or your line manager cannot apply on your behalf. If you need assistance completing the form, please let OH know. 
  5. Access to Work application process - Your application will be allocated to an AtW Case Manager who will contact you to arrange a workplace assessment. This can be done virtually or in the workplace. Once complete, a report will be emailed to yourself and OH which contains recommendations for support such as equipment, coaching or training.
  6. Access to Work report received - Your OH Adviser will review the recommendations to ensure they are appropriate for your condition. The OH administrators will then review the recommendations for compatibility with the University's own policies and will either purchase what has been recommended or seek advice on alternatives that can be purchased.
  7. Equipment or Services purchased – Equipment and support will be purchased by OH using their Access to Work budget. The administrators will need to contact you about your case to ensure correct equipment is delivered. Coaching or training recommendations will be passed onto you or your line manager once purchased, as you will need to coordinate these with the organisation directly.

Who can apply for help from Access to Work?

To be eligible for support you must:

  • Have any condition or impairment that affects your ability to carry out your job or travel to work - you do not need to have a diagnosis for a condition. 
  • Be aged 16 or over
  • Be in, or about to start in, your role at the University
  • Be normally resident and working in, England, Scotland or Wales

You can apply for Access to Work up to 6 weeks before you start work, and it is recommended that new starters apply in the first 6 weeks, as these are prioritised by DWP. 

If applying after this, your application may take longer - currently 12-16 weeks. 

How can Access to Work help you?

AtW can provide you with support with the extra costs of working that may occur because of a disability and/or long term physical and/or mental health condition(s). Examples include:

  • Specialist software, such as screen readers or voice to text software
  • A support worker, such as a driver or job coach
  • Mental health support, such as counselling
  • Training or mentoring
  • Adapted equipment, such as chairs and desks
What cannot be funded?

There are some things Access to Work will not fund, including:

  • Support that has been put in place before you applied to Access to Work
  • Equipment that is standard for the job, such as a standard computer chair (or that is covered the Reasonable Adjustments advice through the University)
  • A diagnosis, such as dyslexia or autism assessments

What to expect when applying for AtW

When you apply, Access to Work will ask:

  • How does your condition affect you?
  • What help you are getting already?
  • What kind of help you think you need?

You will also need to give:

  • The University address and postcode
  • The name of a workplace contact who can authorise your Access to Work payments - which is our Occupational Health team, please provide the name of the clinician you have had an appointment with


Please note there can sometimes be delays in equipment being purchased if the recommended company is a new supplier to the University.

Access to Work may recommend equipment or software that the University cannot provide or support. Certain IT equipment or software may not be compatible with our current IT systems or meet our data protection standards. In this situation we will work with the DITS team and AtW to find an alternative solution where this is possible.

 Currently unsupported equipment: 

  • ReMarkable tablets
  • Grammarly premium

Equipment purchased under Access to Work is owned by you, so you can move it if you change roles within the University. If you leave the University, you may be able be able to transfer equipment to your new employer, but you cannot automatically transfer awards for support workers or travel – please contact the Access to Work team to discuss new arrangements.

For Managers

If you think your staff member may be eligible and may benefit from Access to Work support or are aware they wish to make a claim please complete a referral to OH.

If you receive Access to Work documentation for one of your staff members, please send this along with the referral. 

Changes to health circumstances

If your health conditions change, please make Occupational Health aware to see if another referral is required and call the Access to Work helpline to report a change in your circumstances.
You may get another assessment and a change to the award.

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Contact us
Occupational Health team
Telephone: 01206 872399