The Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme

The BSWAT Payment Scheme closed on 31 December 2018

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BSWAT Payment Scheme - FAQs

What was the BSWAT?

The BSWAT was an assessment tool that was developed in 2004 by the Australian Government. Some Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) used the BSWAT to assess the wages of their supported employees. The employees’ wages were assessed based on their productivity and competency. The productivity assessment looked at how much work a person did during a period of time. The competency assessment looked at how well a person understood and did their job, or parts of their job. The results of these two assessments were then combined to give the person a score. The score was then used to work out the person’s wages.

What was BSWAT Payment Scheme?

BSWAT Payment Scheme (the scheme) delivered a one-off payment of $100 or more to offer compensation to eligible supported employees working within ADEs, with intellectual impairment whose wages were assessed and paid using the BSWAT.

Why was the scheme established?

In December 2012, the Federal Court determined that the BSWAT indirectly discriminated against two ADE supported employees with an intellectual impairment. In January 2014, the former Minister for Social Services announced that the Australian Government will establish a payment scheme to offer compensation to eligible supported employees working within ADEs with intellectual impairment whose wages were assessed and paid using the BSWAT.

Who was eligible?

The scheme was a statutory, time-limited payment scheme established by:

  • The Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Act 2015 (BSWAT Act), which came into effect on 30 June 2015; and
  • The Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Rules 2015 (BSWAT Rules) which later came into effect on 10 July 2015.

Supported employees were invited to register for the scheme by 30 April 2017, and then apply by 30 November 2017, if they met the below criteria:

  • were employed at an ADE under the BSWAT between 1 January 2004 and 28 May 2014
    • has been paid a pro-rata wage, that was determined using the BSWAT, or was paid a training wage while awaiting an assessment under the BSWAT
    • has/had an intellectual impairment

Do payments under the scheme affect a participant’s pension?

No. Payments under the scheme are exempt from means income testing for income support payments under the social security law.

Do participant’s need to pay tax on the payment?

Yes. The scheme payment offer includes an additional amount to help meet the cost of any tax payable. This additional payment is identified in the letter of offer for a payment.

Do participants need to lodge a tax return?

Participants will need to lodge a tax return their taxable income for the 2018/19 financial year (which includes the BSWAT payment) exceeds $18,200.

More information can be found on the Australian Taxation Office website ato.gov.au/BSWAT

How much were the payments?

Payment amounts offered was 70 per cent of the difference between the amount the supported employee would have been paid had only the productivity component of the BSWAT been applied, and the amount the supported employee was paid.

The payment amount were increased to take account of the rising cost of living and expected tax.

Why weren’t other people with disability who have had their wages assessed by BSWAT eligible for the scheme?

In the Federal Court decision of 21 December 2012, two ADEs were found to have indirectly discriminated against two supported employees with intellectual impairment because the competency component of the BSWAT lead to different outcomes between people with an intellectual impairment and those without.

The court did not look at the use of the BSWAT to assess the wages of people with other types of disability, there is no perceived liability for the payment of wages assessed using the BSWAT where the person does not have an intellectual impairment.

Why weren’t other people with disability who had their wages assessed using a different tool eligible for the scheme?

The Federal Court decision of 21 December 2012, only considered; supported employees with intellectual impairment, who had been paid a pro-rata wage assessed using the BSWAT (and who met the other eligibility criteria for the scheme) were eligible.

The court did not look at the use of other wage assessment tools.

What is the role of Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs)?

ADEs had no formal role in the scheme. However, ADEs may have asked for further information to assist the Department in determining payment amounts for the scheme.

Further information can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Resources pages.


The BSWAT Payment Scheme closed on 31 December 2018

Contact us

If you have any questions, you can leave a phone message on the BSWAT Payment Scheme line on 1800 799 515 or send an email to bswatpayments@dss.gov.au.

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