Unions move to stop wage theft of disability workers


Unions will on Monday move to stop dodgy NDIS providers stealing $16,000 a year from dedicated disability support workers by paying them below the minimum wage.

The ASU, with support from the AWU, UWU and HSU, is applying to the Fair Work Commission to ensure providers pay staff at least the minimum wage for social and community services employees, as they are funded to do.

About 10 per cent of providers have been deliberately misclassifying up to 30,000 NDIS workers as home care workers, which has a lower award rate, and pocketing the difference.

The difference in the hourly rates is up to $9 an hour, costing workers $16,000 a year, and more if they do extra hours.

“Stealing wages from dedicated workers who support some of the most vulnerable people in our society is a despicable act and must be stamped out immediately,” said Angus McFarland, Secretary, Australian Services Union NSW & ACT.

“The rampant wage theft in the NDIS is not only ripping off workers, but also participants, taxpayers and the majority of providers who do the right thing. Enough is enough.

“We can’t build a strong and sustainable NDIS if we let dodgy providers rort the system. We are calling on the NDIA and Government to help us clean it up once and for all.”

Martin Laverty, CEO of Aruma Disability Services, and spokesperson for the 25 largest NDIS providers in Australia, backs the union push to close the loophole.

“A properly paid, trained and supported workforce is essential to build capacity and trust right across the NDIS.

“We want to work to together with unions, Government and NDIS participants themselves to lift standards across the NDIS because people with a disability deserve nothing less.”

The ASU is seeking to amend the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 to specify that workers providing NDIS-funded services must be properly classified as social and community services employees.

“Wage theft in the NDIS has increased in the last few years as thousands of new for-profit providers have entered the scheme,” said Mr McFarland.

“Governments, both Labor and Liberal, have funded the NDIS to pay the appropriate rates of pay based on the Fair Work Equal Remuneration case of 2012, won by the Australian Services Union, that applied to all disability support workers.

“Essential disability workers deserve to be paid properly and valued for their work. If we continue to allow dodgy providers to rip them off, then the existing shortage of workers will get even worse.”

/Public Release.