Fairer wages for Aussies with disabilities

Fairer wages for Aussies with disabilities

Working Australians with disabilities should get fairer a pay deal after the Fair Work Commission recently ordered a new classification and wage structure to address the loopholes in the existing framework.

Stakeholders and the federal government are expected to work together with the commission to develop the new wage framework within a “reasonable time” for supported employees’ fair pay.

Australian Disability Enterprises employ people with disabilities at award wages and who need ongoing support, with tasks adjusted to suit abilities.

But under the current award, they are required to use the Supported Wage System tool to determine wage rates for supported employees which the commission found was inadequate.

“It does not take into account the proper range of work value consideration used to assess award wage rates … it may not adequately measure non-productive time at work … does not provide a sufficiently objective and relevant means of identifying the performance benchmark by which any SWS assessment is conducted,” the April 16 statement reads.

It comes after another wage assessment tool was removed from the award list in 2015 after it was found to have discriminated against workers and breached the Disability Discrimination Act.

The report found employers were able to make their own rates and classification structures, pay people differently for equivalent tasks and may even be in contravention of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Despite a modified version of the SWS to take effect on July 1, the commission found it did not go far enough to resolve the problems.

“We consider that the use of all existing wage assessment tools should be phased out over a period of time. They should be replaced by a redesigned classification structure for Grades 1-3 of the award which sets the full award age rates for supported employees,” it states.

The new national wage assessment tool will give an assessment of the size of the job and the output of the supported employee compared to a full award rate at the same grade, the report states.

The new mechanism would be trialled early in the phase-out to determine wage cost impacts and any other issues before the commission approves it into the award.

NSW-based disability enterprise The Flagstaff Group CEO Roy Rogers said the commission listened to the ADEs, supported employees, families and carers.

“It is an informed and practical decision that we can work with to ensure secure, supported, and long-term employment for people with a disability now and in the future,” he said.

AAP

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