Your Guide to Hiring Someone with a Disability
Australia's workforce has generally avoided hiring individuals with a disability, with only a third of businesses showing commitment. Read this article to find out about the benefits of hiring an individual with a disability.
Australia’s workforce has a rich cultural diversity, bringing people from different backgrounds together. Despite this, Australia faces a labour shortage. Employers need to start looking at all their options, and consider one workforce that has generally been overlooked. Hiring someone with a disability can be a daunting idea to some employers. However, it is important to remember that people with disabilities work in all industries, and bring a high level of skill to the table.
Hiring someone with a disability
The DES offers the Disability Management Service or the Employment Support Service. The first is a free program which helps job seekers with short-term injuries, health conditions or disabilities that do not require long-term support in the workplace. The Employment Support Service offers support to job seekers with permanent disabilities and need long-term assistance. Additionally, there is the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) which assists with employment of people with disabilities in rural areas.
For further information, individuals can go to JobAccess. This is a government website which gives information for employers, people with disabilities and service providers. It also provides advice about financial subsidies for employers looking to hire.
How much do I have to pay an employee with a disability?
A common question employers have is ‘Do I pay individuals with disabilities differently?’ Depending on how the disability affects the way the individual works, there are different options:
- Special National Minimum Wage 1
This option is for individuals whose disability does not affect their work. Wage 1 pays the same as the national minimum wage which is $18.29 per hour.
- Special National Minimum Wage 2
This wage applies for those whose disability affects their job. In this case, they would receive a percentage of the National Minimum Wage. This percentage depends on the degree to which the disability affects their productivity. If their capacity is 50%, then they would get 50% of the National Minimum Wage ($18.29) as their hourly pay. Therefore, they would get 50% of $18.29 as their hourly pay.
Should I change my workplace for them?
You may have to change your workplace so it allows a disabled person to freely move around and work to their full capacity. The workplace needs to be appropriate for all individuals, as ruled in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). These modifications may include installing ramps, accessible sanitary facilities, and training staff to appropriately communicate with people with disabilities. These accommodations would also depend on the nature of an individual’s disability.
Fortunately, the Australian government provides assistance with the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). It helps workplaces cover costs when making these changes to the workplace, especially in regard to special equipment and staff training programs.
For each workplace, the EAF will cover a maximum amount of $30,000 for physical adjustments to the work environment. They also offer a disability awareness training program, and for each employee, it will cover a maximum of $1500 over a 12 month period.
Will the government help me under these employment circumstances?
Employers looking to hire individuals with disabilities should be aware that the government offers subsidies for these circumstances. The Wage Subsidy Scheme gives up to $1500 of financial assistance to those who hire people with disabilities registered with a DES provider. The requirements of this scheme is that the employer has to keep the employee in a position for 13 weeks, working a minimum of eight hours a week. However, this subsidy does not apply where employers intend to keep this employee in a temporary position.
Whilst some employers may shy away from the idea of hiring people with a disability, it should be noted that there are many advantages. The government will help out new employers to a large degree. It improves the image of the business in the general community and also creates a supportive environment at work. If you have any further questions, you can speak to an employment lawyer.
Natalie Ho is a legal tech intern at Lawpath, working as part of the Content Team. She is in her 2nd year at Macquarie University studying a double degree of Science and Law and is highly passionate about the accessibility of law.