Access to work
What is Access to Work?
If you are struggling to complete the requirements of your job due to hearing loss, you are protected by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act replaces the old Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It requires employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for deaf and hard of hearing people so that they are not put at a disadvantage with non-disabled people.
Under the Equality Act 2010, you have the right to ‘Access to Work’, a government funded grant that can assist your employer with the costs of providing practical support in the workplace such as equipment or support workers.
After you apply for Access to Work, an Access to Work adviser will contact you to find out what help you could get. They will also want to know what your employer has done to support you i.e. this could be changing the layout of your office or seating of your team meetings to enable you to lipread, or providing communication support for a training day.
Employers have a legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 and if they fail to provide these, it is unlawful disability discrimination and you can take legal action against them.
You can apply for Access to Work if you are:
- in paid employment
- supported interns
- doing self-directed work experience
- Jobcentre plus promoted work trials
- You can also get support during a job interview
More information about the Equality Act 2010:
More information about ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace (general guidance):
More information about ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace (as regards hearing loss):
Some employers have an Occupational Health Worker or team who may be able to make suggestions for what may support you.
What does the grant pay for?
This varies a lot depending on your personal circumstances however this could include:
- An assistive hearing device to help amplify sound to your hearing aid/s for example in team meetings, one-to-one meetings and on the telephone.
- Deaf awareness training to help colleagues communicate more effectively with you.
- Support Workers, for example British Sign Language Interpreters, Note-takers, Lip-speakers who are trained to repeat a speaker’s message and deliver it to lip readers.
- Video relay service support, a telecommunication solution for BSL users or Speech to Text reporters which enable you to follow what is being said on a screen.
Do I have to pay anything?
Access to Work often requires your employer to fund part of the costs of the support recommended. The proportion they ask your employer to pay depends on your individual circumstances and the size of the organisation. If you are self-employed, you may be asked to pay a contribution if your hours do not equate full time hours.
Am I eligible?
Not everyone is eligible for Access to Work. For example people on certain benefits may not be eligible and people living in Northern Ireland apply via a different system.
For up to date information about eligibility please click here.
How do I apply?
You can apply online by completing a form via this webpage or by telephone. You will be required to provide a workplace contact when you phone – usually someone who has approval for spending therefore, it’s usually a good idea to discuss with your manager that you would like to apply first.
What happens once I apply?
If you are eligible for the support, an Access to Work adviser will usually visit your workplace to have an informal chat with you to assess which aspects of your job you find difficult. They will then write a report identifying barriers to work and making recommendations for any support they feel would benefit you, with quotes for any equipment, training or one-to-one support costs.
The report should detail how much of the costs will be funded by the grant and what your employer should pay. One copy of this report will be sent to you and a second copy will be sent to your employer.
It is usually up to you or your employer to arrange delivery of any equipment, training or support workers and Access to Work will usually send information about how to reimburse part of the cost.
Useful organisations to contact for advice and guidance.
- Jobcentre Plus
- your Human Resources Department
- your Hearing Therapist or Audiologist
- Action on Hearing Loss