Thousands of people with intellectual impairment to benefit from settlement of BSWAT class action
The Hon Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, said a decision by the Federal Court today is good news for eligible supported employees.
Today the Federal Court approved the settlement of the class action brought by a supported employee of an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) in relation to the use of the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) and the wages subsequently paid.
BSWAT is no longer in use and the Australian Government has provided $173 million to help the supported employment sector work towards new wage arrangements for supported employees currently working in ADEs.
The Court’s ruling means the class action has now ended, and the BSWAT Payment Scheme will enable eligible employees and former employees to receive payments.
Approximately 10,000 supported employees with intellectual impairment will be eligible to receive a one-off payment through the BSWAT Payment Scheme.
“Payments will take into account taxation, and will not generally affect Centrelink payments. This is only possible because the Government established the BSWAT Payment Scheme Act,” she said.
In the Federal Court’s ruling, Justice North noted that the BSWAT Payment Scheme was fair and reasonable.
“We know that many people have been waiting for the class action to settle before registering for the scheme and we encourage anyone who thinks they may eligible to lodge an application for payment,” Mrs Prentice said.
“It is important that people affected are paid fairly.”
Mrs Prentice said the Australian Government is committed to supporting Australians with disability to participate in all aspects of society and the economy.
“Australian Disability Enterprises provide employment opportunities for some 20,000 workers,” she said.
“ADEs allow people with disability an opportunity for social interaction and to contribute to their local community through work and will continue to play an important role in the lives of people disability into the future.”
Additional background about the BSWAT Payment Scheme:
- Between 2004 and 2014, the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) was used to assess the wages of some supported employees of Australian Disability Enterprises.
- The Australian Government set up the BSWAT Payment Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Social Services.
- The BSWAT Payment Scheme will provide a one-off payment of $100 or more to an eligible supported employee with intellectual impairment.
- People need to register with the scheme by 30 April 2017 and apply for payment by 30 November 2017.
- Payments will be made to eligible participants by 31 December 2018.
- Because the Federal Court has approved settlement of the class action, group members of the class action cannot take part in any other future legal action in relation to the BSWAT.
- The BSWAT is no longer used. All ADES have transitioned to alternative wage assessment tools, and have received Australian Government funding to access advice and help with transition.