Employing a disabled person
Employing a disabled person has many benefits for your business.
Before you take on a new employee with a disability, it is important to be aware of any additional support available to you, and how your workplace will need to accommodate their needs.
Your business may be eligible for wage subsidies in respect of your disabled employee. This is a subsidy that helps you cover the cost of paying wages to the disabled employee.
To be eligible for wage subsidies, you must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and must not:
- be a government agency
- be receiving any other subsidies for this employee or job
- have not previously received a wage subsidy for this employee or job
In addition, your new employee must also be eligible. To be eligible, the employee cannot be an immediate family member, and they must also be covered by an industrial agreement.
How do I apply?
You will need to discuss your situation directly with your Disability Employment Service (DES) provider. This process must be done prior to the employee commending work. Additional paperwork will also be required once the employee commences work to support your application.
What is the payment amount?
As a result of your discussions with your DES provider, you will be eligible for a certain type of wage subsidy depending on your and your new employee’s circumstances. The payment you receive is also capped for a specific time period between 13 and 26 weeks.
The amount you receive could be up to $10,000. Find out more here.
Supported Wage System
If your new employee has a disability that means they cannot perform jobs at the same capacity as other employees, you may be eligible to pay them wages depending on their level or productivity. This is called the Supported Wage System.
You will need to arrange an assessment of the employee by a qualified assessor. The assessor will look at factors such as level of supervision required, job description, the hours of work and time spent on tasks to arrive at an assessment.
In addition, the employee must also meet eligibility criteria including:
- they must be at least 15 years of age
- they are eligible for Centrelink’s Disability Support Pension
- be an Australian citizen or resident
How do I apply?
You can apply online via the Job Access website. Your employment access provider can complete this for you, or you can complete the application yourself.
You may find that your new employee already knows what items or modifications will be required to allow them to work efficiently. However if they are unsure, the first step is to determine whether is actually needed.
Employment Assistance Fund
A free workplace assessment is available through the government funded Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). Under this system, a qualified professional is sent to your place of business to conduct a Workplace Modification Assessment. They will determine whether any barriers exist, what modifications or equipment are needed to help overcome these barriers, and how to make your workplace more accessible and flexible for the employee.
What is covered by the EAF?
The EAF can help cover the cost of workplace modifications and services such as:
- special equipment for the workplace
- communication devices
- disability awareness training for the employees
- first aid training
It is important that any new equipment is not purchased upfront. The employee must apply to EAF first, as reimbursements will not be paid.
EAF payments are only available for expenses relating to eligible employees. An eligible employee:
- works at least 8 hours per week
- has an ongoing disability of at least 2 years
- the disability limits, restricts and impairs their ability to work
- will be employed by you for 13 weeks or more
- is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
How do I apply?
The new employee will generally apply online directly to EAF. They will require information from you such as your ABN, address and contact details for the application. A representative may contact you to verify this information after the application is received.
Once the application has been approved, you will need to arrange written quotes for the equipment and services needed.
What happens to any equipment if the employee leaves?
Usually the individual employee owns the items purchased and will take them with them if they leave your workplace. Ownership of the equipment is confirmed as part of the application process, and this also determines who is responsible for ongoing maintenance.
Employing an individual with disabilities is very rewarding for both the employer and the employee.
Although there may be additional equipment or modifications required at your place of business to accommodate their needs, there is also a lot of support available to help you. It is important to be prepared for your new employee by contacting the relevant agencies up front, to ensure you do not miss out on the benefits you are entitled to.
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