Getting support in the workplace

Audio version of this blog

Support in the workplace involves employers giving their staff the tools they need to succeed. It’s a form of equity that levels the playing field for disabled and neurodiverse employees.

In the UK, it is a legal requirement for employers to provide support in the workplace. It’s always worth talking to your employer to see how your company offers support in the workplace. It’s important to know that you don’t need to be diagnosed with a disability to ask for help. However, you must fit the definition of “disabled” set out by the Equality Act 2010.

If you need support, your employer may ask you to complete a “workplace needs assessment”. These assessments gauge how and where you need support in the workplace. Employers can also help you apply for the “Access to Work Scheme”.

The Access to Work Scheme (ATW) is a grant-based service that a disabled or neurodiverse person can use to help provide them with support in the workplace. It is an invaluable tool that you should investigate.

Eligibility

You can apply for ATW if you are employed by a company or are self-employed. Whilst it helps if you tick all the criteria, don’t worry if you can’t. Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis, so it’s still worth applying.

Employed by an organisationSelf employed
16+ years oldMust be self-employed for 1+ years
Has been employed for 6+ weeksHas completed two self-assessment tax returns
Has a 3+ month contractHas a UTR (unique taxpayer reference) number
If the company has 50+ employees, they may be asked to help the government with some of the costsHas made £6,200 in the last year
OR
You can prove that you will do so within 2 years by providing a business plan or forecast

You can also start your application six weeks before you begin working if you can prove you are on a contract. ATW is a reimbursement scheme; it won’t cover purchases made before your application.

Woman in professional clothes with a prosthetic leg

What you can use the grant for

ATW can be used to purchase anything you can think of that may help you. If you can prove it will be beneficial to you, you have a chance of getting support.

  • Purchasing printer and ink: This one is great if you struggle to read on a computer screen.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones: They are perfect for those navigating Autism, as they can reduce stimuli input.
  • A support worker is great for those with physical impairments and neurodiversites. Having an extra pair of hands to help means you can focus on completing the important tasks.
  • You can use it to cover travel expenses! Getting to the office or travelling to an external location just became easier.
  • Equipment that makes reading and digesting text easier. Perfect for those who have dyslexia and dyscalculia. For example, speech-to-text software, dictaphones and advanced spell checkers.

It is worth noting it’s difficult to apply for subscription services through ATW. It is preferred that the grant is used for one-off payments. It also doesn’t cover the cost of reasonable adjustments, as this is a legal obligation your employer must fulfil.

When you get your equipment, you will also receive training. Your managers can also be provided with relevant training if you think it will help you.

Two woman sat on a sofa with a laptop smiling at each other

Support with your application

Once you begin the application process, you will be assigned a case worker to discuss your needs. However, filling in forms can be daunting, so be sure to ask for support if you need it.

  • Your employers will help you. It’s a good idea to let them know you’re applying, as they will be contacted to provide further information. You don’t want to slow down the process.
  • For those with neurodiversities, you should check out Exceptional Individuals. They understand how difficult it can be to apply and justify yourself as a neurodiverse person. They handle the application process for you.
  • Suppose you feel you need extra support when making your application. It’s worth checking out this guide provided by Diversity and Disability. You can also contact them for further help and information.

Support in work – reasonable accommodations

Providing reasonable accommodations for disabled and neurodiverse candidates is a legal requirement in the UK. Examples include:

  • Providing a ramp for wheelchair users or creating enough space for ease of movement.
  • For neurodiverse workers, it can include providing a permeant desk rather than hot-desking or providing space and equipment to help combat overstimulation.
  • It can also include support for those dealing with mental health issues and be used to provide sensitivity training to employees.

About Bua

Bua’s mission is to help give disabled and neurodiverse people the skills they need to break into the creative industry. They do this by offering different courses that cater to different interests and fields. Bua also offers consulting for organisations.

About the author

Lauren is a freelance writer from Falmouth. After graduating from university, she took a keen interest in writing about disability, so her story and others like it could be told with passion and conviction. 

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