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Navigating the complex world of workplace regulations and awards can be difficult, especially for those in the disability services sector. For National Disability Insurance Scheme service providers, compliance with the SCHADS Award is not just a legal obligation but a crucial component in providing high-quality care and support to individuals with disabilities. 

Read on to learn what the SCHADS Award is, how it works and how to ensure your NDIS business is compliant. 

What is the SCHADS Award in Australia?

The Social, Community, Home Care, and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award) is a significant industrial award that governs employment conditions, entitlements and minimum standards for workers in Australia’s social and community services sector. The Fair Work Commission administers the award, which is one of the Modern Awards introduced under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Who does the SCHADS Award apply to?

The SCHADS Award applies to various organisations and employees within the social and community services sector. This sector encompasses a diverse array of service providers, including but not limited to:

  • NDIS service providers: Organisations that offer services to NDIS participants, such as disability support workers, allied health professionals and other staff involved in supporting individuals with disabilities.
  • Community services: Organisations involved in providing services related to child protection, aged care, homelessness, domestic violence support, family support, counselling and other community-based services.
  • Home care: Providers offering in-home care and support services to the elderly, people with disabilities and individuals requiring assistance with daily living activities.
  • Disability support services: Organisations offering various forms of support and care to individuals with disabilities, including residential care, day programs and employment services.

The SCHADS Award sets out minimum employment conditions and entitlements for employees in these sectors, ensuring that workers are fairly compensated and protected.

How does the SCHADS Award work?

The SCHADS Award has several objectives and provisions, covering areas such as minimum wage rates, hours of work, leave entitlements, allowances and loadings, equal employment opportunity and termination and redundancy. 

The award:

  • Establishes minimum wage rates for various classifications of employees. These wage rates are regularly reviewed and adjusted to keep pace with changing economic conditions.
  • Specifies standard working hours, overtime, and penalty rates for employees working beyond regular hours, weekends or public holidays. 
  • Outlines various types of leave entitlements, including annual, personal/carer’s, and long service leave. 
  • Includes provisions for various allowances and loadings, such as shift, leading hand, and travel allowances. 
  • Includes provisions related to equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination measures, emphasising the importance of providing a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and bullying.
  • Outlines procedures and entitlements related to termination, including notice periods and redundancy provisions.

How much is the SCHADS Award?

SCHADS Award minimum wage

The SCHADS Award sets out minimum wage requirements for employees in the social and community services sector in Australia, which are designed to ensure that employees receive fair and equitable compensation for their work. It includes a schedule of minimum wage rates based on employee classifications and experience levels, with adjustments made periodically to account for economic conditions and other factors. 

SCHADS Award levels explained

SCHADS Award classifications are based on employees’ qualifications, experience and specific social and community services sector duties. In general, employees with higher qualifications or more experience, or those performing roles with increased responsibilities or specialised skills, receive higher pay rates. Level 1 typically represents entry-level positions; higher levels indicate greater expertise and responsibilities. 

Employees covered by the SCHADS Award have the opportunity to advance within their classification levels by moving to different pay points if they acquire new or enhanced skills. This means they can earn a higher pay rate within their current classification due to their improved skills or qualifications. This advancement allows employees to be fairly compensated for their professional development and growth while remaining in their current roles.

However, if employees aspire to move to a higher classification level, it typically requires a promotion to a different position or a re-classification of their current position. This means they may need to take on more significant responsibilities, attain higher qualifications or transition to a different role altogether to be considered for a higher classification level.

SCHADS Award pay rates 2023

To find the specific SCHADS Award pay rates and levels, individuals and employers can refer to the Fair Work Commission’s SCHADS pay guide.

SCHADS Award overtime and penalty rates

The SCHADS Award also outlines provisions for overtime and penalty rates. Overtime rates apply when employees work beyond their standard hours, such as on weekends or public holidays. Penalty rates are additional employee payments for working under specific conditions, such as during night shifts or public holidays. 

SCHADS Award remote work provisions

SCHADS Award provisions apply to remote work for employees who perform duties outside their regular hours without returning to the workplace. Pay conditions for remote work include a minimum payment of 15 minutes for being ‘on call’ between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm, 30 minutes between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, and one hour for non-on-call work or remote participation in meetings or training. Any time worked beyond the minimum is rounded up to the nearest 15 minutes. Employers must pay the minimum hourly rate for remote work, with potential additional loading for work outside 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, exceeding weekly or fortnightly limits, or weekend and holiday work.

What are the SCHADS Award hours and allowances? 

SCHADS Award minimum hours

The SCHADS Award typically outlines the standard full-time working hours for a full-time employee, which can vary depending on the specific role and circumstances but is often based on a 38-hour workweek. 

For part-time employees, standard working hours are usually less than those of full-time employees. The award specifies the standard part-time hours, often based on a proportional reduction of the full-time hours. Part-time employees may work a consistent schedule, such as a certain number of hours per week or days per week, depending on the organisation’s policies.

Casual employees typically do not have set standard working hours. They are employed on an irregular or as-needed basis. The award may set a minimum engagement period for casual employees, usually specifying a minimum number of hours for each shift.

SCHADS Award breaks and rest periods

The SCHADS Award also includes provisions regarding breaks and rest periods for employees to ensure they have adequate time to rest and refresh during their workday. Here are the key provisions regarding breaks and rest periods as per the SCHADS Award:

Meal breaks
  • If an employee works for more than five hours, the SCHADS Award mandates that they are entitled to take a 30- to 60-minute unpaid meal break.
  • If an employee is required to work through their meal break, they must receive overtime pay until they can take their meal break.
  • In cases where an employee needs to eat with a client as part of their regular work routine, the meal break is considered paid and counts as time worked.
Tea breaksEmployees must be provided with paid 10-minute tea breaks every four hours worked. These tea breaks are considered part of the employee’s working hours and are compensated accordingly.
Rest period during overtime
  • If an employee must work more than four hours of overtime after being called back to work, employers must give them a 20-minute meal break.
  • For every subsequent five hours of overtime worked employees are entitled to another 20-minute break.
Rest period after overtime
  • Full-time and part-time employees who work overtime are entitled to receive at least ten consecutive hours off after their overtime shift before their next shift begins without any loss of pay.
  • If this 10-hour rest period is not granted, the employee must be compensated at a 200% penalty rate for each hour worked until the rest period is provided.
Recall to work
  • If an employee is called back to work after their workday or shift has ended, they must be paid for at least 2 hours at their base pay rate, even if they do not work the full 2 hours.

Part-time and casual employees in the social and community services sector are generally entitled to the same break and rest provisions as full-time employees, with the duration and frequency of breaks and rest periods adjusted proportionally to their hours worked.

Employees typically have the option to request time off instead of receiving overtime payments for hours worked beyond their regular schedule. This request is typically made to the employer, who has the discretion to approve or deny the request based on operational needs and requirements. If the request is approved, the employee accrues time off for the extra hours worked at a rate specified in the award or relevant agreement. The employee can use the accrued time off as paid leave, such as taking a day off or reducing their work hours.

SCHADS Award allowances and rostering rules

SCHADS Award allowances and rostering rules ensure equitable treatment and appropriate compensation for diverse work situations. SCHADS Award allowances are additional payments made to employees for specific work conditions or skills. These allowances include uniform, laundry, overtime meals, first aid, on-call, sleepover, vehicle, broken shift, and hot work allowances. They are generally calculated as a percentage of the employee’s base pay rate and adjusted annually to reflect current conditions.

Here’s a breakdown of key aspects of SCHADS Award rostering rules, some of which have coinciding allowances:

Client cancellationsDepending on the timing of the cancellation, employees may be directed to perform other reasonable work during their originally rostered hours or make up for the lost time on another roster day.
Broken shiftsIn certain situations, employers may roster employees for broken shifts, which involve working multiple periods with unpaid breaks in between. Employees can work a broken shift comprising two periods with one unpaid break or agree to work a broken shift with three periods and two unpaid breaks. Employees working broken shifts receive a broken shift allowance.
SleepoversFor organisations providing 24/7 care, SCHADS Award provisions require that employees receive proper accommodations, including a separate room, bed, clean linen, and relevant facilities during sleepover shifts. Sleepover shifts must be 8 consecutive hours, and employees are entitled to a sleepover allowance. If work is performed during the sleepover period, overtime rates apply.
24-hour careA 24-hour care shift differs from a sleepover shift as employees must be available for a full 24-hour period, but only allowed to perform care services for 8 hours. Additional work is compensated with overtime rates or time off. During this shift, employees should have the opportunity for an uninterrupted 8-hour sleep and the necessary accommodations.
Rostered days offFull-time and part-time employees must not be rostered on to work for at least two full days each week, four days each fortnight or eight days each 28-day cycle. Whenever possible, these days off should be consecutive.

What are the SCHADS Award leave entitlements?

SCHADS Award annual leave

Annual leave entitlements under the SCHADS Award are governed by the National Employment Standards (NES), with some additional provisions specific to the award. When employees take their annual leave, employers must provide them with a leave loading of 17.5% on top of their ordinary pay rate. The SCHADS Award ensures that employees receive the higher of two options: either the 17.5% annual leave loading or the weekend and shift penalties they would have earned if they hadn’t taken leave during that period. 

Shift workers, who are available seven days a week and regularly scheduled to work on Sundays and public holidays, receive five weeks of paid annual leave. Additionally, employees who complete at least eight 24-hour care shifts during the year are considered shift workers under the NES and entitled to one extra week of annual leave per the Fair Work Commission’s determination.

The specific annual leave entitlements can vary depending on factors like the employee’s length of service and employment status. Generally, full-time employees accrue four weeks of paid annual leave per year. Part-time employees accrue annual leave pro rata, depending on the hours worked.

SCHADS Award sick leave

As per the NES, Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave days to address their own illness or injury or to care for immediate family members who are unwell. Sick and carer’s leave are considered part of the same leave entitlement, often called personal/carer’s leave. To access this leave, employees may need to provide notice or evidence. 

The annual entitlement is determined based on an employee’s ordinary work hours and equates to 10 days for full-time employees, while part-time employees receive a pro-rata allocation. This pro-rata calculation is typically 1/26 of an employee’s annual work hours. Both full-time and part-time employees accrue sick and carer’s leave throughout each year of employment, starting from their first day of work and aligning with their ordinary hours. Accrued leave balances carry over from one year to the next, allowing employees to use as much paid sick or carer’s leave as they’ve accumulated

SCHADS Award long service leave

Long service leave typically becomes accessible after an extended period of continuous service, often around ten years. The amount of long service leave an employee is entitled to is usually calculated based on their years of service and may vary based on state or territory legislation.

What is the new SCHADS Award 2023?

The main change to the SCHADS Award in 2023 is the 15% minimum wage increase for eligible employees, which came into effect on June 30/July 1. Eligible employees include personal care workers, nursing assistants, enrolled or registered nurses, and home care workers who work in aged care or the NDIS. 

How NDIS software can help 

Cloud-based software for NDIS providers can help them to comply with the SCHADS Award. Its primary role is to streamline and automate various operational aspects, such as employee management, scheduling, and payroll. NDIS software comes equipped with features specifically designed to ensure compliance with the award, including automated payroll calculations to meet minimum wage requirements, break and rest period management and real-time alerts for potential breaches. It also simplifies leave accrual and management, while comprehensive reporting capabilities provide an audit trail for accurate record-keeping. 

NDIS service providers must align their employment practices with the SCHADS Award’s provisions to meet their legal obligations and create a supportive and sustainable work environment. Be sure to check the Fair Work Commission’s SCHADS resources regularly for updates.

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