Policy Human Resources Supported Wage System (SWS) Policy

Supported Wage System (SWS) Policy

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To promote the employment of people who cannot work at full capacity due to a disability, and to define the criteria, trial and assessment, employment and entitlement of individuals who are eligible for a supported wage under the Supported Wage System (SWS).


JCU employees and potential employees who, because of the effects of a disability, are eligible for a supported wage.


Approved Assessor - a person selected by the Supported Wages Management Unit (SWMU) established by the Commonwealth Government to perform assessments of an individual’s productive capacity within the SWS.

Assessment Instrument - the tool provided for under the Supported Wage System that records the assessment of the productive capacity of the person to be employed under the supported wage system.

Disability Support Pension - the Commonwealth pension scheme to provide income security for persons with a disability as provided under the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth), as amended from time to time, or any successor to that scheme.

Employee means a person employed by the University who has an ongoing or fixed term contract under the terms of the James Cook University Enterprise Agreement (as amended or replaced from time to time).

Relevant Minimum Wage means the minimum wage prescribed in this award for the class of work for which an employee is engaged.

Supported Wage System (SWS) - means the Commonwealth Government system to promote employment for people who cannot work at full award wages because of a disability.

SWS Wage Assessment Agreement means the document that records the employee’s productive capacity and agreed wage rate.


1. Eligibility Criteria

1.1 An employee will be eligible to participate in the SWS if they:

  • Meet the impairment criteria for receipt of the Disability Support Pension
  • Are an Australian Citizen or an Australian Permanent Resident.
  • Are 15 years of age or older
  • Have no workers’ compensation claims outstanding against the current employer; and
  • Are able to work at least 8 hours per week

1.2  The presence of a disability in itself does not justify a pro-rata wage. The SWS conducts an assessment which evaluates the individual's productive capacity and determines the appropriate rate of pay. The process provides a method to assess the productivity of the individual against satisfactory performance levels of co-workers without a disability, who are undertaking the same, or similar, tasks or duties in the workplace.

1.3  The productivity capacity for the SWS can only be determined by assessment of the performance of a particular individual in a particular job.

2. Assessment/Trial Period

2.1  A paid assessment period of up to 12 weeks will apply except in some cases where additional work adjustment time (not exceeding four weeks) may be needed.

2.2  During the assessment period, the salary paid to the individual is to be an agreed rate negotiated with the individual (or their nominee), and the University. The agreed amount must be no less than the SWS weekly rate applicable at that time, as determined by the Commonwealth Government.

2.3  Specialised on-the-job training should be provided to individuals during the assessment period. The individual being assessed must be given adequate time to reach optimal performance before a wage assessment is conducted.

2.4  Alternatively, the employee may be assessed and begin employment almost immediately if it is agreed by the workplace parties that a trial period is not required

2.5  The assessment period can be reduced once adequate training has been given. The assessment period is deemed completed when an assessment productivity percentage (%), or wage assessment, has been conducted and the parties agree the outcome.

3. Assessment Productivity Percentage (%) or Wage Assessment

3.1  For the purpose of establishing the percentage of a prescribed salary rate, the productive capacity of the employee will be assessed in accordance with the Supported Wage System by an Approved Assessor .

3.2  The agreed wage assessment will determine the percentage of prescribed salary rate. For example, if the capacity is assessed at 50% they will be paid 50% of the prescribed salary. The higher the assessed capacity the higher the percentage.

3.3  The wage assessment is organised and carried out by the work area. The Commonwealth Government will pay costs relating to the initial assessment and any subsequent reviews conducted by the SWS assessor.

3.4  Upon reaching agreement all parties are to agree on the wage rate and date of review and sign the Wage Assessment Agreement.

3.5  All assessments made under this schedule must be documented in the SWS Wage Assessment Agreement, and retained by the employer as a time and wages record in accordance with the Fair Work Act.

3.6  The effective date of the wage assessment agreement and commencement of pay is the date the Agreement is signed by the employer, the individual and the SWS assessor.

3.7  All SWS Wage Assessment Agreements under the conditions of this Policy, including the appropriate percentage of the relevant minimum wage to be paid to the employee, must be lodged by the employer with Fair Work Commission (if required).

3.8  If a union representative was not party to the wage agreement, JCU is required to send a copy of the SWS Wage Assessment Agreement to the relevant union.

3.9  The assessment of the applicable percentage is subject to annual review or earlier on the basis of a reasonable request for such a Review. The process of review must be in accordance with the procedures for assessing capacity under the SWS.

4. Employment

4.1  Where the employer and employee wish to establish a continuing employment relationship following the completion of the assessment period, and a successful trial or probation period, JCU may decide to enter into a fixed-term contract or convert the individual to ongoing employment without advertisement. The term of the appointment should be based on work area requirements. A further contract of employment will be entered into based on the outcome of assessment.

4.2  A work area employing an individual under the SWS is required to take reasonable adjustments to make any necessary changes in the workplace to enhance their capacity to carry out the duties of the job effectively. Changes may involve re-design of position duties, the physical setting, working time arrangements and work organisation in consultation with other workers in the area. The Commonwealth Government reimburses employers (through the SWS) for the cost of special equipment or adjustments that are needed.

5. Entitlements

5.1  Individuals with a disability, who access the SWS, retain the same employment conditions as their co-workers employed under the Agreement.

5.2  Superannuation will be paid in accordance with the Agreement at the relevant Superannuation Guarantee Contribution rate.

5.3  SWS employees will be paid the assessed capacity percentage of the minimum rate for the classification level of the position they occupy, if the minimum amount payable is not less than the amount directed by the Commonwealth Government.

5.4  Subject to satisfactory performance, SWS employees will proceed by annual increment through the salary range to the maximum of that range.


Approval Details

Policy DomainHuman Resources

Policy Custodian

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Services and Resources

Approval Authority

Human Resources Committee

Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date

Description of changes





Reviewed and updated policy to align with Government requirements.

Manager, Industrial Relations and Policy




Policy sponsor and approval authority amended to reflect approved policy framework