New Wage Assessment Tool

Work on developing a new productivity-based wage tool, replacing the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT), for use in the supported employment sector is continuing with relevant stakeholders through the Fair Work Commission (FWC) conciliation process.

In March and April 2015, a small-scale observational study was conducted in six ADEs to observe the use of the Supported Wage System (SWS), an approved wage assessment tool under the Supported Employment Services Award 2010.

Following the outcome of the study, the FWC parties agreed for the Department to engage a consultancy which developed draft guidelines for the use of historical productivity data in a productivity tool. The guidelines aim to encourage ADEs to collect ‘timings’ of an individual’s productivity in the lead up to an external SWS wage assessment and will be used to moderate the overall assessment outcome.

The draft guidelines were considered by the FWC parties in October 2015 and will now form part of a trial of a modified SWS in early 2016.

A summary overview of the SWS modifications that will be trialled is available.

A number of alternative wage setting arrangements are also being explored by the FWC parties. Agreement to a new wage assessment tool for use more broadly in the supported employment sector is subject to the conciliation process in the FWC.

Changes to the Supported Employment Services Award 2010 (the Award)

The Health Services Union (HSU) and United Voice (UV) have sought to exclude all wage assessment tools other than the Supported Wage System (SWS) from the Award from April 2014. This matter is the subject of a conciliation process in the Fair Work Commission.

Following the 30 April 2015 AHRC decision to grant an interim exemption, the HSU and UV applied to exclude, through consent or arbitration, the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) from the Award.

In the FWC, unions and peak bodies representing ADEs agreed to a timetable which would see the BSWAT removed from the Award by 31 October 2015. The variation to the Award also allows for a further transitional period for ADEs using the BSWAT until 29 February 2016 on application by the ADE to the Fair Work Commission.

For ADEs this means that all supported employees must be assessed under a new wage assessment tool by 31 October 2015, or an application must be made to the FWC.

For more information on this process see the Fair Work Commission.


1. When will the new wage tool be available?

The Department is currently working with relevant stakeholders in the FWC to develop a new wage assessment tool for use in supported employment. The Department is unable to advise when this new tool will be available for wider use in the supported employment sector as the process is ongoing.

2. What tool should my ADE use?

The Department cannot provide industrial relations advice. The choice of wage assessment tool is a business decision for individual ADEs. In 2013, the Government provided each ADE with $10,000 to seek industrial relations advice around wage setting arrangements.

3. My ADE will not remain viable under new wage arrangements. What can I do?

While the Government is a long-term supporter of employment for people with disability, ADEs are commercial businesses and need to be financially viable to ensure they are able to pay wages and maintain the costs of running a business.

Tapering wage supplementation will be calculated from 1 February 2015 for eligible organisations. ADEs may be able to access funds for wage supplementation as they transition to new wage arrangements. The Department will write to ADEs once the policy has been finalised.

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