Access to Work is a government scheme that covers costs associated with making your workplace accessible.
Access to Work (AtW) is a brilliant scheme for ensuring individuals with disabilities are included in the workplace and that businesses are not affected financially as a result.
However, when we spoke with employees that use Access to Work, we found that it is not working as it should, due to substantial delays.
But first, how does it all work?
Access to work requires a paper format of Communication Professionals’ (CP) invoices and timesheets.
These timesheets and claims have to be signed and then sent to AtW to be approved.
It takes a long time in the working day to print all the necessary documents and attach a timesheet for each CP.
All documents must be sent as physical documents, not electronically.
The documents have to be completed to specific guidelines and if any detail is incorrect, no matter how small, then the payment will not be processed.
How are the delays affecting this?
Due to delays, it takes at least three weeks between the documents being sent and them being opened.
They then have to be processed which means it can take up to two to three months for the Communication Professionals to get paid.
The AtW process will be delayed if there are any errors in the paperwork, but AtW clients are not always made aware of this delay so do not know they must resolve it. This extends the whole process further.
What is the result of the delays?
“Many interpreters ask me “when will I receive my payment”. I always send the paperwork on time but AtW has so many delays that it causes the interpreter stress as they have not been paid.”
Communication Professionals do not get paid until months later. They (understandably) will then chase the individual employee about this, but this puts more pressure on the employee.
Increasing numbers of Communication Professionals are refusing to work with AtW clients due to these long delays in payment.
The Access to Work process can be long and confusing even without delays. Everything is in written English and there isn’t a BSL translation, so this makes it hard for many in the deaf community.
Some deaf employees seek guidance from interpreter agencies so they can complete the forms to the correct specifications.
We recommend that the employer makes themselves aware of the Access to Work process and regularly checks in with employees that use AtW.
In summary, whilst Access to Work is a fantastic scheme in theory, delays are making it increasingly frustrating to use.
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