Q&As: Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme

What is this scheme?

The Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme (the scheme) delivers a one-off payment to eligible supported employees with an intellectual impairment whose wages were assessed and paid using the BSWAT.

Why has this scheme been established?

The scheme was established by the Australian Government following the Federal Court finding in December 2012 that the BSWAT indirectly discriminated against two Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) employees with an intellectual disability.

The Scheme makes payments according to the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Act 2015, which came into effect on 30 June 2015, and the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Rules 2015.

You can view the Act and the rules on the Federal Register of Legislation website.

How much are payments?

The payment amount to be offered is 70 per cent of the difference between the amount the supported employee would have been paid had only the productivity element of the BSWAT been applied, and the amount the supported employee was paid.

To ensure the person retains the payment amount after tax, the amount will be increased to take account of expected tax.

To account for the rising cost of living, the payment amount will also be indexed to reflect increases in the Consumer Price Index.

If the payment amount is greater than zero, the applicant will receive a letter setting out, amongst other things, an offer to pay that amount and the time in which the applicant may accept the offer. Your payment will not affect your social security benefit, such as your Disability Support Pension.

Do I need to talk to anyone before I accept a payment?

Participants are required to seek independent financial counselling before they can accept an offer of payment if the offer is over $1,000. Further information is available here.

An applicant may choose to have a nominee, advocate and/or a support person at any stage of the process.

Who is eligible?

A person is eligible for the Scheme, if the person, at any time between 1 January 2004 and 28 May 2014:

  • had an intellectual impairment; and
  • had been employed in an ADE and was provided employment support by the ADE; and
  • was paid a pro-rata wage determined using the BSWAT, or was paid a training wage while awaiting an assessment under the BSWAT.

Will I need to prove that I meet these criteria to access the scheme?

Wherever possible, the Department of Social Services (the Department) will use information held by the Government to assess if a person is eligible.

If the Department does not have enough information, additional information may be requested.

Why aren’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 disability because the employees’ wages were assessed under the BSWAT. The court did not look at the use of the BSWAT to assess the wages of people with other types of disability.

While the Commonwealth is of the view that the decision applies only to those two individuals, the Scheme has been established to provide people with intellectual disability, their families and carers, with certainty that their ADE will not close because of concerns about perceived liability for discrimination.

Because the court did not look at the BSWAT in relation to 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 disability.

I have been working in an ADE and have had my wages assessed using a different tool. Am I eligible for the scheme?

No. Only people who have been paid a pro-rata wage assessed using the BSWAT (and who meet the other eligibility criteria for the scheme) will be eligible.

If I access a payment from the scheme, how will it affect my pension?

The payment is exempt from means income testing for income support payments under the social security law.

Will I need to pay tax for the payment?

Yes. An additional payment will be included as part of the Scheme payment offer, to meet the cost of any tax payable. This additional payment is identified in the letter of offer for a payment.

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

ADEs have no formal role in the Scheme. However, ADEs may be contacted for information to assist the Department in determining payment amounts for the Scheme.

I didn’t apply for the scheme by 30 November 2017. Can I still receive a payment?

No. To receive a payment, you must have applied by 30 November 2017. The Scheme has strict statutory timeframes and there is no discretion to receive late applications.

I am not sure if I applied for the scheme. How do I check?

You can check if you applied for the Scheme by calling the BSWAT Payment Scheme information line on 1800 799 515.

How can I find out more?

Queries can be sent to the BSWAT inbox: bswatpayments@dss.gov.au

Call the BSWAT Payment Scheme hotline on 1800 799 515.

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