Did you know that people with disability make up 10 per cent of the total Australian workforce? When you're looking for employees, keep in mind that people with disability can bring a range of skills to the workplace.
Advantages of employing people with disability
People with disability work in all industries, in many different roles, and bring a range of skills, qualifications, talents and experience to business.
It makes good business sense to employ people with disability. Evidence has shown they tend to:
- take fewer days off, take less sick leave and stay in jobs for longer than other workers
- have fewer compensation incidents and accidents at work compared to other workers
- be more affordable, as recruitment costs are often lower
- build strong relationships with customers
- boost workplace morale and enhance teamwork.
Employees covered by awards
Awards, which set the minimum wages and conditions of most employees in Australia, often include pay rates and conditions for employees with disability. Check the Supported Wage System section in the relevant award to see if your employees with disability are covered.
Supported Wage System (SWS) allows employers to pay wages that are based on productivity, to employees whose productivity is much reduced due to disability.
Employees not covered by awards
If you have employees with disability who are not covered by an award or agreement, they are entitled to one of the special national minimum wages:
Special National Minimum Wage 1
For employees who have a disability that doesn't affect the way they can do their job. For adults, this is $694.90 per week (before tax), or $18.29 per hour.
Special National Minimum Wage 2
For employees who have a disability that does affect the way they can do their job. They get a percentage of the National Minimum Wage. The percentage is based on their “productive capacity”, which is assessed by the Department of Employment. For example, if you have employees with a capacity of 70%, they would get 70% of the National Minimum Wage (70% of $18.29 per hour).
Get the full details on Special National Minimum Wages for employees with disability on the Fair Work Commission website.
Preparing your workplace
If you’re thinking about employing someone with disability, you may need to make changes to your workplace to ensure it's accessible.
Most people with disability won’t need changes to the workplace, so it’s a good idea to chat with your employees first.
Changes to your workplace could include:
- modifying the physical environment, such as special equipment
- accessible car parking
- accessible sanitary facilities, such as bathrooms and toilets
- accessible room requirements in accommodation buildings
- making work arrangements more flexible
- training your staff to ensure they feel comfortable with communicating and working with people with disability.
Visit the Job Access website for:
- help on arranging a free workplace assessment
- information about support available and your rights and responsibilities.
What are Premise Standards?
Premises Standards set out the minimum requirements for building work to make sure that people with a disability can use the building in a dignified way.
The standards apply to new buildings and parts of existing buildings that are undergoing modifications, require building approval and were lodged on or after 1 May 2011.
If this applies to the building your business operates out of, you should read more about how the Disability (Accesss to premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 apply to your business. Generally, private residences are not covered by the premises Standards.
Support for employers
As an employer, you can access a range of government tools and program to help you employ people with disability. For example:
- Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support is an incentive paid to employers who employ an eligible Australian Apprentice with disability.
- Job Access can help you with free, confidential advice about employing people with disability and the types of financial help that are available to employers.
- Wage subsidies can help employers with paying wages and training costs in the first few months of employing a person with a disability.
Search Grants & Assistance for more government support for your business.
Support for workers with disability
As an employer, it's good to know that there's also support for workers with disability, to help them adjust to their workplace. Here are a couple:
- Employment Assistance Fund provides financial help to buy work related modifications and services. This help is available for people with a disability who are about to start a job, who are currently working, or who need help finding and preparing for work.
- Job Access has information for people with disability about finding work and being supported in the workplace.
International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD)
December 3rd is International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). The day celebrates the achievements of people with a disability and aims to raise awareness and acceptance of all people.
IDPwD aims to:
- bring together businesses, governments and communities to recognise the contributions and celebrate the accomplishments of people with a disability
- promote the understanding of people with a disability
- encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.
Learn how you can celebrate the day in your workplace on the International Day of People with Disability website.
It’s unlawful to disadvantage employees and job seekers in any way because of their disability.
To make sure you have a discrimination-free workplace, and you understand your rights and responsibilities as an employer, check out:
- the Disability discrimination fact sheet for employers on the Australian Human Rights Commission website
- our equal opportunity and diversity page.
Questions about employing people with disability?
For free, confidential and expert help on employing people with disability, you can contact a Job Access Adviser:
- Free call on 1800 464 800
- Fill in their online enquiry form.
Find out more about the Job Access Adviser team.