Employees with disability pay rates

The Supported Wage System (SWS) applies to employees with disability and who have a reduced work capacity. Use our Pay Calculator to calculate pay rates for employees who are eligible for a supported wage.

The Department of Social Services gives out information and advice about who is eligible for the SWS. It also accepts applications for the SWS and can deal with disputes. Employers who are considering applying for the SWS should visit the JobAccess website.external-icon.png

When can a supported wage be paid?

If an employee is covered by an award or registered agreement, a supported wage can only be paid if:

  • the award or agreement has SWS provisions,
  • the employee is eligible
  • the employer has applied to the Department of Social Services.

Where an award or agreement has SWS provisions, an eligible employee is entitled to a percentage of the minimum pay rate for their classification, depending on their assessed work capacity. For example, someone with an assessed work capacity of 70% is entitled to 70% of the relevant pay rate in their award or registered agreement. This assessment can only be carried out by a qualified independent assessor.

In most awards, employees eligible for a supported wage can't be paid less than $84 per week.

Employees may need to work a trial period while their work capacity is assessed by a qualified assessor. Most employees still have to be paid at least $84 per week during the trial period. 

Not all employees are entitled to be paid a minimum of $84 per week, including during a trial period. Read below for more information about these exceptions.

What are the exceptions? 

Not all employees are entitled to a minimum payment of $84 each week. Employees aren't entitled to this minimum payment if:

  • they're covered by an award or agreement that doesn't have SWS provisions
  • their disability doesn't affect their work capacity
  • from 1 July 2018, they're covered by the Supported Employment Services Award 2010. 

If there are no SWS provisions in the award or registered agreement, an employee with disability must be paid the full pay rate for their classification.

Similarly, if an employee’s disability doesn't affect the way they can do their job, they're not covered by the SWS and get the full pay rate for their classification.

Changes to the Supported Employment Services Award 2010 from 1 July 2018

From 1 July 2018, changes in relation to supported wages under Schedule D of the Supported Employment Services Award 2010 [MA000103] external-icon.png  will apply. 

As a result of a Fair Work Commission (Commission) decision external-icon.png , these changes also applied for a short time from the first full pay period starting on or after 17 October 2017.

However, on 8 November 2017 the Commission issued a determination to vary the award again so that:

  • the changes stopped applying from the first full pay period on or after 8 November 2017
  • the changes would instead apply 1 July 2018.

Employees who were assessed under this award during this period (17 October to 8 November) may need to check if this variation affects them. For more information please contact us.

What are the changes?

The changes don't apply at the moment. The Supported Employment Award and our Pay Calculator will be updated when the changes apply again.

Employees eligible for a supported wage under Schedule D of the Supported Employment Award will no longer be entitled to a minimum weekly payment of $84.

The minimum supported wage will instead be calculated differently to other awards. Employees will be entitled to a percentage of the relevant minimum pay rate for their classification. The percentage applied will be the higher of:

  • the employee’s assessed work capacity, rounded to the nearest whole percentage, or
  • 12.5%.

If an employee is working a trial period while their capacity is being assessed, the employee must be paid at least 12.5% of the relevant minimum pay rate for their classification, for each hour worked within the trial period. 

For more information about pay when these changes don't apply, read When can a supported wage be paid?

What about award and agreement free employees?

Employees that aren't covered by an award or registered agreement, are entitled to the national minimum wage.

An employee with disability can be paid a percentage of the national minimum wage, depending on their assessed work capacity. For example, someone with a work capacity of 70% will get 70% of the national minimum wage. Work capacity assessments need to be carried out by a qualified independent assessor.

Employees can't be paid less than $84 per week.

Think a mistake might have been made?

Mistakes can happen. The best way to fix them usually starts with talking.

Check out our Help resolving workplace issues section for practical advice on:

  • figuring out if a mistake has been made
  • talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
  • getting help from us if you can't resolve it.

What to do next

Help for small business

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