Supported Wage System (SWS)

The SWS is set up for employees with disability who are not able to perform jobs at the same capacity as any other employee. Under SWS, special workplace arrangements are created so that employers can pay wages to a person with disability based on how productive they are in their job.

This allows employers to pay wages based on the workplace productivity of a person with disability, however, the employer’s formal workplace agreement must include arrangements for SWS if they want to apply for SWS. If you make an application for SWS, your employee with disability will need to have a SWS assessment from a qualified assessor.

The assessment will:

  • be done with the employer, employee with disability and the Employment Services provider and nominee (if the employee has one) at a time that suits everyone, and
  • happen on an employee's regular work day when they are doing their usual job.

The assessor will look at information such as the employee's job description, time spent on each duty, hours and days worked, break times and the level of supervision required.

The assessor will also make sure that any modifications that the employee needs to do their job are in place.

To be eligible for SWS you must

  • be an Australian citizen or a person resident in Australia whose continued presence is not subject to a time limit imposed by Australian law (e.g. a temporary visa)
  • be at least 15 years of age
  • have no outstanding workers’ compensation claim against the current employer
  • meet the impairment criteria for the Disability Support Pension (DSP), as confirmed with Centrelink
  • ensure the job under consideration is covered by an industrial instrument or legislative provision that permits employment under the SWS provisions
  • check that the job being offered is for a minimum of eight hours per week.

If you are a new employee, your employer or service provider may make an application.

Changes to the SWS under the Supported Employment Services Award 2020

In late 2017, the Fair Work Commission made modifications to the SWS for people employed under the Supported Employment Services Award 2020. For ease of use, two sets of Overview and Handbook documents have been developed depending on whether they are for SWS under the Supported Employment Services Award 2020 or for open employment.

Learning Modules for Australian Disability Enterprises

The Department has developed a set of five eLearning modules to assist employers in understanding the SWS for these employees. The modules are easy to follow and contain resources that may assist employers with the changes. Click on the following links to access the eLearning modules.

*NOTE: The SWS used in open employment has not changed.

For more information about the SWS refer to the Overview of the Supported Wage System or the SWS Handbook, or contact the Department of Social Services Assessment Team on 1800 065 123 or speak to a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800.

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