Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Wage assessment tool approved for short term use

The Australian Human Rights Commission will allow the payment of wages to supported employees in Australian Disability Enterprises who have already been assessed under the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) for another 12 months, subject to conditions.

In 2013 the Department of Social Services sought a three-year exemption from certain sections of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to allow the continued use of the BSWAT in Australian Disability Enterprises while the implications of a recent Full Federal Court decisions are worked through and a new wage assessment process investigated.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has granted an exemption with conditions which appear to require that Australian Disability Enterprises must immediately start using the Supported Wage System, or an alternative tool approved by the Fair Work Commission, to conduct new and outstanding wage assessments.

The Government’s priority is ensuring continuity of employment support for people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises.

It is disappointing that, on face value, the decision does not provide Australian Disability Enterprises with the amount of time they need to transition to new wage setting arrangements.

We have been working hard to resolve this issue and as part of this the Government has already announced the establishment of a payment scheme for supported employees with intellectual disability in Australian Disability Enterprises who previously had their wages assessed under the BSWAT.

We are carefully considering the exemption decision made by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the supporting reasons, and will work through its implications.