The Fair Work Commission has handed down a major decision in its long-running review of the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (the SCHCDS Award), which is likely to have significant implications for service providers in the industry.
In a 300+ page decision, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has decided to implement a range of variations to the SCHCDS Award, including in relation to minimum engagements, broken shifts, overtime, client cancellation, remote response work and other issues. The Commission has also left open the prospect of further changes to address the issue of travel time.
Although some of the changes have been expressed as provisional views (which will be the subject of further proceedings before a final decision), the most significant changes will likely involve:
The introduction of minimum engagements for part-time employees
An increase to the minimum engagement for casual home care employees from one hour to two hours
Restrictions on the use of broken shifts
A new broken shift allowance
Changes to the client cancellation clause (including extending it to the disability sector) and
An ability for part-time employees to have their hours reviewed and increased.
These changes will likely necessitate businesses in the home care and disability sectors to review and adjust their rostering practices in order to mitigate the financial impact of these changes.
However, many employers in the disability sector will be heartened by the fact that the Fair Work Commission made some significant findings about the funding issues facing the sector and the deficiencies relating to the NDIS price regulations. In particular, the Commission found that the NDIA has been ‘aggressive’ with its price regulation activities, and that the NDIS pricing caps are based on modelling that ‘underestimates the true costs of service providers in delivering services’.
This validates the concerns that many service providers have expressed since the introduction of the NDIS and may provide a platform from which reforms can be pursued to support businesses in the sector.
The changes have not come into effect yet, and there is a process for parties to comment on the drafting of the proposed changes before they are implemented. A hearing has been scheduled for 30 June 2021, with the changes not likely to be introduced until late 2021.
*ABLA appeared in this matter on behalf of Business NSW and a range of other industry bodies.