Everything you need to know about Access to Work in the theatre industry

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work is a government programme aimed at supporting disabled people to take up or remain at work. Access to Work is a discretionary grant scheme that provides personalised support to disabled people who are:

  • In paid employment
  • Self-employed
  • Apprentices
  • Trainees
  • Supported interns
  • Doing self-directed work experience
  • On Jobcentre plus promoted work trials 
  • Going to a job interview

To find out more about this scheme you can take a look at the Disability Rights UK website here.


What support is available?

If you are disabled or have a physical and/or mental health condition that can make it challenging for you to do your job, you can do one of the following things: 

  • Talk to your employer about changes they can make in your workplace
  • Get extra help from an Access to Work grant, including mental health support

In this blog you will find key information about access when working but if you would like to read about it in more detail about how you can access your workplace then click here.


Talk to your employer about changes they can make in your workplace

Your employer must make certain changes - which are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ - to make sure you’re not at a disadvantage when doing your job. These adjustments can include changing your working hours or providing equipment to help you do your job. You should always speak to your employer before applying for an Access to Work grant. 

Find out more information about reasonable adjustments here.


Get help from an Access to Work grant

If your employer has made reasonable adjustments for you and you find you need additional help, you can get help from an Access to Work grant. 

In order to be eligible to receive a grant, you need to have a paid job or be about to start or return to one.

You’ll be offered support based on your needs which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace. An Access to Work grant can pay for:

  • Special equipment, adaptations or support workers services to help you do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
  • Help getting to and from work

You may not get a grant if you already get certain benefits, but if you do, the money does not have to be paid back and will not affect your other benefits you receive from the organisation you work for. 

If you would like to apply for an Access to Work grant click here.

Access to Work grants are different for those who live in Northern Ireland. If you would like to know more about this support click here. 


Mental Health support

If you need mental health support you can apply for a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace, or getting to and from work including:

  • Adaptations to the equipment you use
  • Special equipment you use
  • British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters and video relay service support, lip speakers or note takers
  • Adaptations to your vehicle so you can get to work
  • Taxi fares to work or a Support Worker if you cannot use public transport
  • A Support Worker or Job Coach to help you in your workplace
  • Disability awareness training for your colleagues
  • The cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job

Take a look at our blog ‘What support is there for mental health in theatre’ here.    


Confidential support

You can get confidential support and advice from a trained healthcare professional from the Mental Health Support Service. You do not need to have a diagnosed condition to use the service and you do not have to get an Access to Work grant to get support from the Mental Health Support Service, however you must be eligible. Find out if you’re eligible here.


What will an Access to Work grant not cover?

You cannot get an Access to Work grant to pay for:

  • Changes that your employer has to make (reasonable adjustments)
  • Items that would normally be needed to do the job, whether a person is disabled or not
  • Support that your employer used to provide but has stopped


Ensure you know your rights at work and what is available to you. Read carefully through your contract of employment which you’ll receive a copy of when you begin your job at that company. Access is a basic right and requirement that is constantly changing and improving the theatre industry and allows it to grow.




Photo: Shutterstock

Published 2 January 2020

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