Wage Justice Campaign
Currently there are over 20,000 people with disability in Australia who are employed by Australian Disabilty Enterprises (ADE) previously called "Sheltered Workshops". The majority of these people do not receive equal pay for work of equal value, or have access to the same industrial protections as workers without disability doing the same job at the same statutory pay grade (‘Award’). This is because they are subject to the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) that unfairly discounts their wages. The BSWAT mainly affects employees with intellectual disability who make up over 75% of the ADE workforce.
17 February 2015: Update on Variation of Supported Employment Services Award
United Voice, Health Services Union and National Peak Disability and Advocacy Organisations — Communique, Tuesday, 17 February 2015 Variation of Supported Employment Servces award.
On 23rd December 2013, United Voice and the Health Services Union made a joint application to the Fair Work Commission to vary the Supported Employment Services Award 2010.This Award covers employees with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs, formerly known as Sheltered Workshops). The application was made following the decision by the Full Federal Court in Nojin v Commonwealth which found that the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool used to determine wages unfairly discriminated against workers with intellectual disability. The application also seeks to deal with the extent to which other Wage Assessment Tools listed in the Award are discriminatory against workers with disabilities.
On 20 June 2014 the full bench of the Fair Work Commission decided that in an effort to find a solution that there be a Conference of the parties led by Deputy President Booth. There has been a series of meetings held at the Fair Work Commission since 1 September 2014. Conference proceedings are conducted as a confidential process and without prejudice basis.
On 16 February 2015 the parties agreed to conduct a study using the Supported Wage System with modification in a sample of ADEs. This will consider the impact of using historical productivity data on the productivity wage assessment rates of workers with disability. The parties will discuss the results of this study at the next scheduled meeting on Monday 27 April 2015
National Peak Disaiblity and Advocacy Groups supporting the joint application and parties at the conference include - AED legal centre; Inclusion Australia (formely the National Council on Intellectual Disability); and People With Disability Australia.
25 November: Joint Media Release: National Peak Disability and Advocacy Organisations applaud Senate Vote to Block BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill 2014
In blocking the Bill, the Senate has shown support for the human rights of people with disability to seek fair and full compensation for lost wages through the Federal Court.
Click here to read more
Greens Deputy Leader and Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt MP Parliamentary Speech
on the the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill 2014 and on his website
The rights of these employees to the same employment terms and conditions as employees without disability continues to be unrealised for thousands of workers with disability across Australia.
- Outline of the Nojin and Prior case on the Australian Human Rights Commission Blog
- PWDA position on the BSWAT Word 123kb
- Association of Employees with Disability Legal Centre
- Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
- Australian Human Rights Commission
November 2014 - Disabled workers to benefit after Senate votes against unfair payment scheme Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
August 2014 - Minister Fifield must reward genuine effort not failure Inclusion Australia
August 2014 - Real Businesses Pay Real Wages Inclusion Australia
July 2014 - Workers with intellectual disabilities class action Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and AED Legal Centre
June 2014 - Government’s payment plan for disabled workers ‘another attack’ on the most vulnerable Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
June 2014 - The Commonwealth Government proposes the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Bill 2014
April 2014 - Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) grants the Commonwealth and all the Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who use the BSWAT a temporary exemption to allow the payment of wages to ADE employees, based on assessments already conducted with the BSWAT, for a period of 12 months, subject to conditions.
Feb 2014 - Lawyers win court order to prevent disabled workers being misled about legal rights Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
Feb 2014 - The Fair Work Commission held a Directions Hearing on 14 February 2014 for the joint application by United Voice and the Health Services Union (HSU) to vary the Supported Employment Services Award (2010).
Feb 2014 - Show Your Support - Wage Justice for Workers with Disability PWDA
Jan 2014 - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers win temporary reprieve on disabled workers court action Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
Jan 2014 - Australian Government announced intention to establish a payment scheme for supported employees with intellectual disability in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who previously had their wages assessed under the Business Service Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)
Dec 2013 - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodge a class action discrimination claim seeking to recover all underpayments for the 10,000 affected workers
Sep 2013 - The Australian government made an application to the Australian Human Rights Commission to grant an exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act for a period of 3 years, and permit ADEs to continue to assess and pay wages using the BSWAT.
To read the government’s Exemption Application see https://www.humanrights.gov.au/department-social-services-dss
Dec 2012 - Appeal to the full court of the Federal Court upheld - Nojin v Commonwealth of Australia  FCAFC 192
Federal Court of Australia ruled that the Commonwealth unlawfully discriminated against Mr Nojin and Mr Prior under Section 6 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 (Cth) by assessing their wages using the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)
Apr 2011 - Federal Court (Melbourne) hears Nojin and Prior vs Commonwealth of Australia.  FCA 1066
In the Media
- 4 February 2015 10,000 workers with disability paid below the minimum wage: when will they get justice? - The Guardian
- 25 Nov 2014 Disability wage tool defeated in Senate - The Age
- 25 Nov 2014 Disabled workers to benefit after Senate votes against unfair payment scheme Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
- 1 Dec 2014 Aussie employers urged to lift disability wages - ProBono News
- 17 Oct 2014 The Dignity of Slavery – or ‘Why My Shoes Are Cheaper at Kmart’ - The Stringer
- 28 Aug 2014 Disability Payment Bill Report Divided - ProBono News
- 26 Aug 2014 Disability Groups Protest Payment Scheme Bill - ProBono News
- 26 Aug 2014 Don’t blame HRC, Mitch Fifield - The Australian
- 26 Aug 2014 Back pay class action by 10,000 workers with disability will continue - The Guardian
- 25 Aug 2014 Govt Puts Funds Towards Disability Wage Arrangements - ProBono News
- 25 Aug 2014 Senators urged to vote against payment scheme for workers with disabilities - SMH
- 21 Aug 2014 What's fair pay for a fair day's work for the intellectually disabled? - ABC
- 21 Aug 2014 Intellectually disabled workers call for Government to do more to boost wages - ABC
- 21 Aug 2014 Intellectually disabled workers call for Government to do more to boost wages - ABC
- 26 Jun 2014 Government takes fight to intellectually disabled - Josh Borstein, SMH
- 7 Jun 2014 Lawyers slam Govt's bill on intellectual disability wages - ABC AM
- 14 Feb 2014 Show Your Support - Wage Justice for Workers with Disability - PWDA
- 31 Jan 2014 Update on the Real Wages for Real Work Campaign - PWDA
- 21 Jan 2014 Court Action Over Disability Payment Scheme - ProBono News
- 20 Jan 2014 Lawyer accuses Government of bastardry over intellectually disabled workers - Simon Lauder, ABC News The World Today
- 20 Jan 2014 Disabled workers go to Federal Court over back pay - Clay Lucas, The Age
- 15 Jan 2014 Pay compo for disabled workers - Samantha Donovan, ABC News The World Today
- 11 Jan 2013 Workers with disabilities win landmark wage fight - Lindy Kerin, ABC News
- 13 Dec 2013 Australian Human Rights Commission request further information in relation to the Department of Social Security submission for a Temporary Exemption - Disability Directory
- 16 Sep 2012 Disabled workers lose bid for higher pay - Danny Morgan, ABC News
- 11 Apr 2012 Disabled workers' pay rates kept low - AAP
- 8 Apr 2012 Court challenge to disabled workers' wages - ABC News
- 8 Apr 2012 AUDIO: Exploitation fears for $2 per hr disabled workers - Sarah Drury, ABC PM
- Sept 2011 - Federal Court rules Prior and Nogin failed to establish they had been discriminated against
- 12 Apr 2011 Disabled men paid just $1.79 an hour - Jeff Waters, ABC News
Publications, Submissions and Reports
- Jul | Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs inquiry into the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Bill 2014 220kb
- Feb | Joint supplementary response regarding Dept of Social Security (DSS) application for exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to use the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)
Word 566kb - PDF 140kb
- Jan | Joint response regarding Dept of Social Security (DSS) application for exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to use the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)
Word 721kb - PDF 230kb
- PWDA submission to AHRC regarding DSS application for exemption from DDA to us the BSWAT Word 123kb
- Graeme Innes Speech at National Disability Services conference re Nojin decision BSWAT
- Take Action to Stop Sheltered Workshop Wage Exploitation - Disability Advocacy Resource Unit