Changes to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2020 (SCHADS Award) will come into place from 1 July 2022. These changes will increase the costs for employers and providers in the sector. And, according to retired National Disability Insurance Agency board member John Walsh, unless greater funding is provided, this will lead to a poorer quality of service delivered to NDIS participants.

In this article, I explain these upcoming changes, what employers need to be aware of, and what it means for NDIS providers going forward.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has announced that the minimum payments and hours of engagement for part-time and casual employees will increase for all employees under the SCHADS Award.

These changes mean that employees undertaking home care and disability work will be entitled to payment for a minimum of two hours of work on each occasion they are engaged.

Transitional arrangements

Where part-time employees were hired before 1 February 2022, some transitional arrangements are available until 1 October 2022.

If a part-time employee is currently engaged in a regular pattern of work including shifts of less than two hours, the employer must discuss the changes with the affected employee and genuinely try to reach an agreement on a variation of working hours that will make them consistent with the hours prescribed by the FWC, and reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances.

If both parties have genuinely tried to reach an agreement, but no agreement is reached, including because the employee has refused to confer, the employer may vary the agreement to provide for periods of work that are consistent with the required hours.

Note: such a variation must not come into operation before 1 July 2022.

Concerns: what does this mean for the future of the NDIS?

Recent reports have highlighted concerns that the compulsory doubling in hours may increase costs for NDIS participants and may affect the quality of the services provided.

Where disability services workers are required to work for a minimum of two hours at a time, this may increase the service costs and likely reduce the level of flexibility for participants of the NDIS, which may result in a less frequent uptake of services.

Some have also indicated that these changes may result in workers leaving the disability sector or transitioning to independent contractor arrangements to avoid the mandatory minimum engagement periods.

How HR Assured can help?

The above changes are amongst many that have been announced for workers in the disability and care sectors.

In this unpredictable time, HR Assured’s HR and WHS experts can assist and support you with changes to relevant Modern Awards and any other workplace matter you might have. You can reach our Workplace Relations Advisors via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Samantha Khavin is a qualified Workplace Relations Advisor at HR Assured. She regularly advises and supports our clients with a wide range of workplace and employment issues.