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  • Writer's pictureMartin Hesse

The Complexities of the SCHADS Award: What You Need to Know as an Employer

Uncovering what makes this industry award so complex

The SCHADS Award is the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award, which sets out the minimum terms and conditions of employment for workers in the social and community services industry in Australia. Of the 100+ industry awards in Australia, SCHADS is one of the most complex when it comes to workforce management due to its diverse range of services and the specific needs of the industry’s clients. Read on to understand more about some of the award clauses and SCHADS specific obligations that determine an employee’s pay.

It’s 24/7

SCHADS, like any modern award, uses base rates, overtime, penalty rates and allowances to calculate how much someone should be paid. Unlike most other awards there are an additional 20 minimum wage requirements depending on whether someone has worked on the weekend or on a public holiday, afternoon or evening shifts, overtime or shifts with less than 10 hours between them. Service providers in these industries are often required to roster staff on a 24-hour basis, and the award contains a lot of clauses and conditions which may come into play based on a worker’s roster, shift start time, duties or level of qualification.

Department managers who are organising rosters need to ensure accurate staffing levels while also remaining within a budget. Remaining in budget can be trickier than it looks, given that a worker can easily be entitled to overtime based on a variety of scenarios. Workforce management systems can often help in this regard by applying all applicable award conditions to a roster in advance, rather than applying it simply to the timesheets after the fact. In Rosterspace for instance, a manager can create forecasted rosters that accurately capture labour costs and budgets, so that when a roster is published, they are secure in knowing that they’re compliant and within budget.

Different shifts require different qualifications

The SCHADS sector provides a wide range of services such as aged care, disability services, child protection, and community services. Each service type requires different skills, qualifications and experience, which can make scheduling and managing staff more complicated.

From a workforce management perspective, managers can only roster staff who have the right qualifications and certifications to specific shifts. This can cause issues when having to fill shifts at the last minute, as large portions of the SCHADS workforce is highly casualised. The automated shift filling function in Rosterspace means that a vacant shift can be filled proactively and intelligently with an eligible worker i.e., has the right qualifications and has expressed their availability in advance. This saves the operational manager time as they don’t have to ring around or apply guesswork to rostering process, while the organisation is able to maintain their compliance.

A pay period can’t be looked at in isolation

Most workers under the SCHADS award are paid on a weekly or fortnightly basis. When calculating employee entitlements, it is not as simple as looking at the current pay period in isolation, because the award includes a range of different employment conditions that apply over different periods of time.

For example, the SCHADS award includes provisions for overtime for working on weekends and public holidays, as well as various allowances and loadings. To calculate these accurately, it can be necessary to look at the last 4 weeks of shifts which have been worked by an employee. Failing this can mean that overtime entitlements are missed, or even vice versa i.e. you may be paying overtime unnecessarily!

A modern workforce management system, such as Rosterspace, can correctly calculate overtime for all scenarios leading to workers being paid correctly.

Allow me.

The SCHADS award contains provisions for no less than 12 different allowances. Some of these allowances can be applied to an employee's fixed or master record, such as a First Aid allowance. It is then a matter of calculating the prorated amount to be paid for the week, based on the number of hours worked.

When it comes to allowances such as Broken Shift or Sleepover, it gets trickier, given that the allowances need to be applied or calculated within individual shifts. Furthermore, employees may be entitled to additional payments of ordinary time or overtime based on the specific scenario surrounding the aforementioned allowances. Achieving all of this with minimal or even no input from employees or managers means less room for human error and of course less work. Win win!

Ongoing updates

The SCHADS award is also subject to ongoing updates and transitional arrangements, which can further add to its complexity. This is because the award needs to be regularly reviewed and modernised to ensure that it remains relevant and reflects changes in the industry, as well as any legislative or regulatory changes that may occur. To learn more about award updates and how the right workforce management system can ensure updates be done properly, check out our previous post Why is Industry Award interpretation in Australia so complex”.

Rosterspace is an Australian workforce management software made for advance award interpretation. To find out more head to


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