On 5 September 2013 the Commission received an application for a temporary exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 from the Commonwealth. The application sought a three year exemption under the Disability Discrimination Act for the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT). The application was also made on behalf of all the Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who use the BSWAT.
The application was published on the Commission website with a 6 week period for submissions. Over 100 submissions were received from various stakeholders.
On 13 December 2013 the Commission sought further submissions from the applicants and a small number of stakeholders in relation to various alternative tools that had been proposed in the submissions received by the Commission. The Commission received a further 5 submissions in response to the request for further information.
The Commission has decided to grant the Applicants a temporary exemption from the operation of sections 15, 24 and 29 of the Disability Discrimination Act to allow the payment of wages to ADE employees, based on assessments already conducted with the BSWAT, for a period of 12 months, subject to the following conditions:
a. Take all necessary steps to transition to the Supported Wage System, or an alternative tool approved by the Fair Work Commission, as quickly as possible.
b. Immediately commence using the Supported Wage System, or an alternative tool approved by the Fair Work Commission, to conduct new and outstanding wage assessments.
c. Report to the Commission on a quarterly basis during the exemption period as to:
i. The number of assessments conducted each quarter; and
ii. The number of assessments still to be conducted.
d. Give consideration to ensuring that no disadvantage is suffered by ADE employees whose wages may be reduced as a result of the application of the Supported Wage System or alternative tool.
As this decision can be reviewed under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, this is the only statement the Commission will be making on this matter.
A copy of the Notice of Grant of a Temporary Exemption is online at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/department-social-services-dss.
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