Disability wages system to get $173m

Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield.
Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield.

A plan by the federal government to create a national wage system for employees with disabilities should be made in association with the Fair Work Commission, Greenacres chief executive Chris Christodoulou says.

Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield announced $173 million in funding on Thursday to help the supported employment sector work towards new wage arrangements for employees working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs).

The funding will partly be used to develop and implement a new productivity-based wage tool to determine how much an employee should be paid.

The new tool will lead to the phasing-out of the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool - a system that does not require workers to earn wages based on productivity. It was suspended last year after the Federal Court found it to be discriminatory.

Mr Christodoulou said the funding would not immediately affect Greenacres because it did not use that system.

Although not averse to a government-created assessment tool, Mr Christodoulou said he believed the Fair Work Commission should be involved.

"I think the government should make sure it works closely with the Fair Work Commission to achieve a good outcome which is both fair to supported employees, or people with disabilities, but also which is sustainable for Australian Disability Enterprises."

Mr Christodoulou said he also held concerns about a press release announcing the funding, which said ADEs would need to become more robust to meet additional wage costs.

"I'm a bit concerned by that statement, that they might have some short-term funding available but in the long term they may move to reduce funding," he said.


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