What is Access to Work?

The Department for Work and Pensions’ Access to Work scheme (“Access to Work”), which was introduced in 1994 ((P Thornton and A Corden, ‘Evaluating The Impact Of Access To Work: A Case Study Approach’ (Social Policy Research Unit, University of York 2002) 1.)) has its origins in the Employment and Training Act 1973, and it makes provision for the Secretary of State to “make such arrangements as he considers appropriate for the purpose of assisting persons to select, train for, obtain and retain employment suitable for their ages and capacities or of assisting persons to obtain suitable employees (including partners and other business associates) ((Employment and Training Act 1973, s 1.)) which may include “arrangements for encouraging increases in the opportunities for employment and training that are available to women and girls or to disabled persons” (( ibid s 2(b). )).

It appears that around the time that the Disability Discrimination Bill, which later became the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (“the DDA”), was debated in Parliament, the Government decided to set up the Access to Work scheme to compliment the DDA and the then new concept of “reasonable adjustments”.

The Government’s current description of the Access to Work scheme is “a specialist disability service delivered by Jobcentre Plus, which gives practical advice and support to disabled people, whether they are working, self-employed or looking for employment. Access to Work is provided where someone needs support or adaptations beyond the reasonable adjustments which an employer is legally obliged to provide under the Equality Act” ((Department for Work and Pensions, ‘Employer’s Guide to Access to Work’ <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307036/employer-guide-atw-dwpf03a.pdf> accessed 19 November 2009.)).

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