The is calling for rampant wage theft from disability support workers to be a core focus of the federal government’s independent review of the NDIS.
As the major union representing NDIS workers, the ASU’s NSW & ACT branch has seen a myriad of unscrupulous providers ripping off staff, including cases where providers charge the NDIS for disability support work, but pay employees below the award minimum for disability workers.
The NDIA’s own wage benchmarking report released in May showed the bottom 10 per cent of providers are paying below the minimum wage for disability support workers.
“Minimum pay rates for disability support workers are set by the Fair Work Commission following a landmark pay equity case in 2012. That is the only successful equal pay case under the current Fair Work laws,” said ASU NSW & ACT secretary Angus McFarland.
“These equal pay rates have been properly funded in the NDIS. But many providers, including some of the online platform providers, are deliberately misclassifying their workers so they can underpay them and pocket the difference.
“This kind of scam is actually so routine within the system that many providers don’t even really consider that they are doing the wrong thing and workers are leaving the sector in their droves.
“We can’t afford for greedy providers to be pocketing wages that should be flowing to workers providing supports to people with disability. We can’t tolerate fraud and we can’t tolerate wage theft in the NDIS. What these providers are doing is not just unlawful and unfair, it undermines the sustainability of the entire scheme.
“At the moment providers get away with this practice because the process for unions to take action through the courts is restricted by lengthy processes and the highly casualised nature of work means workers are scared to speak out and face losing shifts.
“On the rare occasion Government regulators put heat on a provider, we’ve seen providers then flee the country, fold, or phoenix, leaving the workers with nothing and NDIS participants without the supports they need.
“That’s why the ASU is calling for the review into the NDIS to apply a sharp focus on the misuse of price claims and wage suppression.
“A properly reformed system must enforce an upfront requirement for providers to pass onto their workers the correct minimum wage and equal pay they won in Fair Work.”