Introduction to the 30 hour 'rule'
AtW were telling many Deaf and Deafblind customers that if they have 30 or more hours interpreting a week they must recruit their own full time interpreter.
They are still sometimes saying this, but more often now say that if you 'choose' not to employ an interpreter, they will only give you an award that covers the cost of an employed interpreter.
AtW are now also sometimes saying that if you work part time and need an interpreter for most of the hours you work, then this 'rule' applies to you to.
The problems with this are discussed in detail in the "Disagree with AtW" document you can download below. This is a summary of the main issues.
From AtW Guidance v 22:
"Recruitment of Support Workers
If a Support Worker is required full time, for example 30 hours or more a week, Access to Work will normally fund on the basis of an annual salary rather than an Agency worker employed on an hourly basis." (AtW 364)
What has changed?
This has been in the AtW Guidance document in previous versions, but now many Deaf people are being told it is a policy decision, and that they have to do this. So Deaf and Deafblind people with over 30 hours support are being told that they will be given £30,000 salary plus £5,000 on costs to employ an interpreter.
Should they 'choose' not to employ an interpreter, then that is the maximum funding they will receive. Some Deaf people were allowed to spend this funding flexibly, but now Deaf people are usually told it is limited to an hourly rate of between £11.00 to £18.00 an hour. This prevents people from paying the interpreter's normal fees for fewer hours each week
Why this is impossible for Deaf and Deafblind people to do?
AtW are currently not responding to the issues being raised by Deaf people, just some of which include:
1) It isn't appropriate to employ an interpreter full time - it doesn't meet the Deaf person's needs which are to use different interpreters in different situations. AtW own guidance supports this.
2) Interpreters won't work with one Deaf person full time and won't work at that salary.
3) The amount being offered does not come close to the actual cost of employing someone at £30,000 with on costs, including for example pension, training (required for interpreters), etc.
4) Employers don't want to employ additional staff, and so are less likely to recruit or keep Deaf staff.
5) The amount being offered is for one full time employed interpreter. But what about sick cover, when two interpreters are needed, when the Deaf person needs to do a long day, work at weekends, etc. And when you add all these extra costs, are AtW actually saving any or much money compared with just having freelance interpreters?
6) For some Deaf people the nature of their work means that one interpreter couldn't safely work with them everyday on their own, because it would lead to health problems (Upper Limb Disorder etc.). For example, I work with one Deaf person whose work is unpredictable and very busy, and who often really should have two interpreters for presentations, meetings etc. but can't get them at such short notice, and can't afford them with the AtW funding they have. I can do my best for one day, and go home exhausted, making sure the next day my interpreting work is more balanced, but I couldn't work with him like that every day.
Introduction to the 30 hour 'rule' Part 1 - BSL
Introduction to the 30 hour 'rule' Part 2 - BSL
Introduction to the 30 hour 'rule' Part 3 - BSL to be added soon
How does it affect Deaf people?
The effect for some Deaf people has been devastating. I have spoken to:
One person who's gone down from 5 days very necessary full time cover with a team of trusted interpreters, to 3 days a week with less experienced interpreters, as they have been told only to use interpreters who live close by and those people are less experienced.
The Deaf person has not been able to recruit an interpreter, and the reduced budget AtW have given won't stretch further than three days' support.
One person who needs to increase their hours due to the increase in meetings at work, but who won't because they are frightened of ATW's response. As a consequence they are managing with a decreasing pool of interpreters as interpreters are unable to manage the heavy work load on their own.
One person who has already decided not to replace their Deaf staff as they leave, because the AtW decision means they would be doubling their staff size with interpreters, and the full on costs and risks to employers are not covered by AtW funding.
Many Deaf and Deafblind people receiving AtW are experiencing huge stress at the moment, and are worried (with good reason) that the uncritical application of this 'rule' may jeopardise their employment now, and their prospects in the future.
Reasons why employing your own interpreter is difficult or impossible
The document to download below gives lots of examples explaining why employing an interpreter is difficult or impossible.
The examples came from Deaf people and interpreters. They are listed with the relevant AtW Guidance.
AtW are now using Version 22 of their Guidance. However all the information in the document has stayed the same, it's just the paragraph numbers that have changed. So please carry on using this, but remember the paragraph numbers will be slightly different.
Reasons why employing your own interpreter is difficult or impossible - BSL
Spreadsheet comparing the real cost of employing a staff interpreter with the cost of just using freelance interpreters - Version 2
The spreadsheet to download below contains a lot of information. Many of the figures come from AtW own Guidance. For it to be useful you need to put your own interpreting needs in, for example; how many half days and full days you book interpreters, and how many times a year you have to book two interpreters.
Version 2 corrects the amount shown for management costs, and adds in red an explanation of what AtW are currently saying.
Spreadsheet comparing the real cost of employing a staff interpreter with the cost of just using freelance interpreters - Version 2 - BSL