This information is only relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations. Find out more on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page.
If you operate or are employed by a Pty Ltd business – you can find information on this topic on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
There are a range of employment arrangements in the state system which can assist employers with providing employment to workers who have a mental or physical disability.
- WA awards – many awards include specific provisions for employees with disabilities.
- registered industrial agreements – can be specifically tailored to provide provisions for groups of employees with disabilities.
- employer employee agreements – can be specifically tailored to provide provisions for groups of employees with disabilities.
- minimum rates for award free employees – if the employee is not covered by a WA award or registered agreement then minimum rates may be able to be adjusted by written agreement.
Award covered employees
Many WA awards allow an employee’s rate of pay to be set below the award rate where a disability impacts on the employee’s ability to carry out their full range of duties. All other conditions contained in the award continue to apply to employees with disabilities who are receiving reduced wages.
If a WA award does not contain an ‘aged and infirm workers’ clause, ‘under rate employees’ clause or ‘supported wage’ clause (and there is no industrial agreement or employer employee agreement), the employee must be paid the full rate of pay for the work they are undertaking.
Aged and infirm workers clause or under rate employees clause
Both of these clauses provide a process for setting an employee’s weekly pay rate below the minimum specified in the award where a disability is affecting their ability to carry out their duties.
Supported wage clause
This award clause provides eligibility and assessment criteria for employees with disabilities through the federal Supported Wage system (SWS). The SWS allows for the payment of a pro rata wage based on an assessment of an employee in a particular job.
For example, an employee with a disability in the SWS assessed as having a productivity level of 70 per cent compared to co-workers performing the same duties, the worker and the employer can agree to ongoing employment at a pay rate of 70 per cent of the normal rate.
The output of a supported wage employee will generally be assessed on productivity, competency or a combination of the two. If the award provides for it, the wage assessment may also be carried out by the employer and an employee or union representative, in consultation with the employee.
Contact Wageline for assistance if you are unsure whether the WA award applicable to your situation contains an 'aged and infirm workers’ clause, ‘under rate employees’ clause or ‘supported wage’ clause.
Award free employees
Where the employee is award-free, the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act (MCE Act) permits the weekly pay rate to be set below the minimum rate in circumstances where the employee has a mental or physical disability, provided that there is an agreement in writing.
All other conditions contained in the MCE Act will continue to apply to employees with disabilities who are receiving reduced wages. The minimum rates for award free employees page outlines the minimum rates of pay.
Disability Support Pensioners
A disability support pensioner receiving supported employment services under Commonwealth disability legislation is not covered by the MCE Act and its minimum conditions of employment.