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The Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award (SCHADS Award) is one of the most difficult Awards to interpret for HR and payroll.

It covers employers and employees engaged in the following services

  • Crisis assistance and supported housing services
  • Social and community services
  • Home care services
  • Family day care services.

Recent FWO prosecutions for underpayments in this sector have resulted in significant fines for the following employers:

  • Disability Services Australia
  • Activ Foundation and
  • Elizabeth Cottage.

The following is a summary of important Award conditions:

Casual Conversion

A casual employee who has been working a regular pattern of hours for the past 12 months has the right to request conversion to either full-time or part-time employment.

Employers can only refuse such a request if they have reasonable grounds and must respond in writing within 21 days.

Example of reasonable grounds include:

  • Significant changes to their hours of work to become engaged under the new employment type.
  • The position may not exist in the next 12 months.
  • The position may reduce in the number of hours within the next 12 months.
  • Significant changes in working day and times within the next 12 months that do not suit the employee’s availability.
  • Rest Breaks

Employees should have:

  • a minimum break of 10 consecutive hours between continuous shifts (or 8 hours before or after a sleepover shift).
  • a minimum break of 10 hours break between broken shifts on consecutive days.
  • a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off after working an overtime shift without loss of pay (excluding casuals). If an employer fails to provide the employee a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off after an overtime shift, the employer must pay the employee at 200% until they finish their shift. They will then need 10 consecutive hours off duty without loss of pay.

Shift penalties

If your employee does not work their ordinary hours between 6am and 8pm, Monday to Saturday, the following penalty rates apply under the SCHADS Award:

Shift Type Penalty Rate
(% of Minimum Hourly Rate)
Afternoon shift – shift ends between 8pm and midnight, Monday to Friday 112.5%
Night shift – finishes after midnight or starts before 6am, Monday to Friday 115%
Public holiday shift – any time worked during the public holiday 250%


Higher Duties

Home care employees who work higher duties must be paid at the higher rate:

  • If they work for two hours or less, they are to be paid for time so worked; or
  • If they work for more than two hours, they are to be paid at the higher rate for the full day or shift.

All other employees who work five consecutive days or more at a higher classification because they are relieving another employee, must be paid at the minimum rate based on the classification of the employee they so relieved.


Minimum Engagements for casual employees

  • Social and community services casuals except when working as a disability services worker: 3 hours minimum.
  • Home care casuals: 1 hour minimum
  • All other casual employees: 2 hours minimum


Changes to Roster

  • Employers must give 7 days’ notice of any changes to rosters except where another employee is absent from duty on account of illness, or in an emergency.
  • An employee must be given notice of a cancellation or change in roster by 5pm the day prior if a client cancels or changes home care services and if no payment will be made to the employee. If the employee is not given notice, then the employer must pay them for the rostered hours on that day. Alternatively, the employer may direct the employee to make-up time equivalent to the cancelled time in the next fortnight in other areas of the business or with other clients.

BetterHR has helped thousands of Australian employers manage people and compliance with confidence with our affordable HR software and HR advice solutions.

Need help with HR and SCHADS Award Compliance?

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Every day, our HR software, tools and expert advice helps hundreds of Australian business owners and managers, including many people in the social, community, home care and disability services industry.

We’ve also created a fortnightly roster template exclusively for the SCHADS Award.

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