People often judge a book by its cover and this still applies
when it comes to the judgments we make about each other. In light
proposed anti discrimination legislation, this article outlines
how the supported wage system assists with the employment of
WHAT IS THE SUPPORTED WAGE SYSTEM?
Industrial awards have specific provisions which provide that
employees with a disability can receive wages on a sliding scale
according to their ability to perform the work they are assigned.
Individuals whose productive work capacity is reduced by reason of
disability can be paid a productivity wage. A National Panel of
Assessors assesses the productivity of employees with disabilities
and that assessment is then used to calculate a corresponding
To be eligible for the supported wage system:
the employee's work must be covered by an industrial award
or enterprise agreement which includes a provision for the
supported wage system;
the employee is an Australia citizen or a permanent
the employee is 15 years or over;
the employee has no outstanding workers compensation claim
against the employer;
the employee meets the impairment criteria for the Disability
Support Pension; and
the job is for 8 hours or more per week.
It is important to note that supported wages can only be paid if
an assessment is carried out by the National Panel. The assessment
process does not cost the employer, it is Government funded.
Example: If the employer makes an application
for an assessment and the employee's productivity is assessed
at 70 per cent compared with their peers then the employer can
legally pay the employee 70 per cent of award wages.
The supported wage system enables people with disabilities to
compete in the market place and encourages employers to consider
employing people with disabilities. There are a number of
employment agencies which specialise in disability employment.
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN BRIEF
It is unlawful to treat a person less favourably than another
person, in the same or similar circumstances because of their
disability. It is discriminatory if an employer does not make
reasonable adjustments for the disabled person and
in not making those adjustments treat that person less favourably.
It is not necessary that the person's
disability be the dominant reason or a substantial reason
for the treatment for the conduct to be discriminatory. If
the employee or prospective employee cannot do the job even with
reasonable adjustments then it is acceptable to determine they are
not suitable for the job.
For further information on what constitutes disability
discrimination in employment as well as the exceptions which allow
discrimination, please see our
Disabled Employees article.
WHAT TO TAKE AWAY
Hiring disabled employees with limited capacity is financially
viable under the supported wage system
People with a disability are protected from discrimination in
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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