Community & disability services newsletter

Posted on
May 2, 2022
Social Community and Disability Sector

Your union update.

Why the government needs to change

The federal election has now been called for 21 May, and we all want to hear what the political parties will commit to making things better for people with a disability and people who support them.

We’ve been lobbying both the federal government and the opposition about much-needed changes to the NDIS that would improve both the services provided to participants and the working conditions for those supporting them.

We finally received some good news with Labor Disability Services spokesperson Bill Shorten announcing a plan for an elected Labor government.

Here are some key details:

 Labor will revitalise the National Disability Insurance Agency: Labor will lift the staffing cap at the NDIA, commit to urgently reducing insecure labour hire arrangements, increasing permanent staff at the agency and improving the culture. Labor will also review NDIS design, operation and sustainability.

•  Stop the waste: Labor will review the excessive use of external lawyers, crack down on criminal activity and fraud, and review the value for money of lucrative consultancy contracts

•  Boost efficiency: Streamline the planning process for better initial plans. Fix the planning pathway and appeals to make NDIS decision-making more efficient, fair and investment focused.

•  Stop the unfair cuts: Labor will introduce an expert review that will guarantee plans will not be arbitrarily cut

 Fixing regional access: Labor will appoint a senior officer within the NDIA to tackle the concerning barriers to service delivery in regional areas of Australia

•  Put people back into the NDIS: Labor commits to co-designing changes to the scheme with people with disability and the sector and we will boost the number of people with disability on the board of the NDIA.

While this is a good first step that also includes some funding announcements for advocacy funding, housing and employment, it will not be enough to reverse the last nine years of neglect under the current government. HACSU will continue to lobby for better commitments from all political parties as the election campaign continues because it is not acceptable that governments keep ignoring the disability sector.


Contract of employment and wage theft

We’ve recently uncovered incorrect job classifications and pay rates on workers’ employment contracts from dodgy employers.

A disability support worker employed by Destiny Tas was on a contract at SCHADS Level 1.2(entry level), but in reality, the level of support they’ve been providing has far exceeded Level 1.2. After we reviewed this worker’s statement of support duties, we did a comparison check against the SCHADS Award and determined a SCHADS Level 2.3 was a more appropriate classification.

We’ve written to the employer to ask for this worker to be paid correctly and given the backpay we believe they’re owed. We’ll be following this up until it’s resolved.

Wage theft like this needs to be stamped out in the disability sector immediately. If you don’t think your contract of employment states the correct level of support you’re providing, you can contact HACSUassist so we can look into that for you.


If training is not compulsory, it’s your choice if you do it or not

Whenever there is training at your workplace, remember to ask if it’s compulsory. You will need to be paid to do it if it’s compulsory, regardless of whether you do it during work time or at home.

Workers at St Michaels were recently told to complete some training modules at home. Whilst the employer never said it was compulsory, they did indicate that they would like staff to complete it. After we wrote to management to remind them that staff needed to be paid to do it if the training is mandatory, management then said it’s not compulsory training. So that means staff have the choice whether they want to complete it or not.

If training is mandatory at your workplace, but you’re not paid for doing it, let us know and we’re here to protect your rights at work.


Ordinary hours of work and overtime

There seems to be some confusion about ordinary hours of work and overtime as we have found some employers are not paying overtime correctly. Ordinary hours of work are generally considered to be 38 hours per week or an average of 38 hours per week based on the following condition:

•  Worked in a week of five days in shifts and not over 8 hours per shift

•  Worked in a fortnight of 76 hours of 10 shifts and not over 8 hours per shift; or

•  In a four-week period of 152 hours of 19 shifts, 8 hours per shift

However, the maximum number of hours per shift can be increased to 10 hours if it is agreed in writing.

While in some workplace agreements, overtime is payable once you work above your contracted hours, generally, once you work over 76 hours per fortnight, you are entitled to overtime, which is usually 150% for the first two hours and then 200% after that.

But no matter whether you have worked more than 76 hours that fortnight, your employer cannot offer you overtime and make you agree to work overtime at a flat rate – if it is offered as overtime, it should be paid at the overtime rate.

If you’re not clear about your ordinary hours of work or you don’t think your employer is paying your overtime correctly, you can get in touch with HACSUassist.  

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form

Social Community and Disability Sector