Understanding the SCHADS Award

The Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award) is a complex award, which can make it difficult for employers to understand their obligations. 

As a result, employers often don’t understand their obligations under the SCHADS Award and may inadvertently breach their obligations. This can lead to costly disputes, litigation and the risk of being prosecuted for breaching the award. Therefore, it is essential that employers take the time to understand the award. 

To help with this, we’ve put together a summary that breaks down the essentials in the SCHADS Award from pay rates to leave entitlements, working hours and more. 

It is, however, important to note that the summary is only a guide – for full details, you should always refer to the award and seek professional advice. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Who Does the SCHADS Award Cover?

The SCHADS Award is a set of wage rates and conditions that apply to the community services industry. It covers a wide range of employers in different sectors, including employers in the: 

  • Social and Community Services Sector 
  • Home Care Sector 
  • Crisis Assistance and Supported Housing Sector
  • Family Day Care Scheme Sector 

and their employees who are in the classifications in the award.

The SCHADS Award does not apply where an employee is covered by certain other awards, such as the Aged Care Award 2010, Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010 or Nurses Award 2010), 

Scope of Coverage For Each Sector

The table below gives you a brief overview of the scope of coverage for each sector covered by the SCHADS Award:

Social and Community Services Sector (including Care and Disability Services) Home Care SectorFamily Day Care Scheme SectorCrisis Assistance and Supported Housing Sectors
The Social and Community Services Sector includes organisations that provide support services to individuals, families and communities. This may include undertaking disability services work, social, recreation, welfare, and youth work.The Home Care Sector includes organisations that provide domestic and lifestyle support services to people who are unable to live independently in their own homes. This may include personal care, domestic assistance and other supported housing services.The Family Day Care Scheme Sector includes organisations that provide day care services such as long centre-based day care, family day care centres and other similar service types.The Crisis Assistance and Supported Housing sectors include organisations that provide support crisis accommodation, temporary accommodation, transitional housing, supported living arrangements and other similar services. 

Classification Levels and Pay Point Progression 

Labor wants to make significant changes in relation to casual employment to support their commitment to job security.

Each employee must be advised in writing of their classification level in the SCHADS award. Minimum payments that apply for each classification level. The appropriate classification depends on factors including their qualifications, experience, and responsibilities. Under the SCHADS Award, there are different classification levels depending upon which sector they work in. For example, there are eight levels of employees under the social and community services group.

In addition to the classification levels, the SCHADS Award also introduces different pay points for each level. According to these provisions, employees can be eligible to move from one pay point to another under their classification if they acquire new or enhanced skills. 

However, movement to a higher classification level is by way of promotion to a different position or re-classification of the employee’s position.

The level one employee in social and community services, for example, has the opportunity to move up progressively from pay point one to pay point three, increasing their wages without moving up classification levels.

Schedule B – D of the SCHADS Award legislative document provides the classification definitions and relevant pay point progressions for each industry sector. 

Different Employment Types Under the SCHADS Award

Employees under the SCHADS Award generally fall into one of three employment categories: 

Full-Time EmployeesPart-Time Employees Casual Employees 
Works 38 ordinary hours per week, which may be averaged over two or four weeks. Engaged to work less than 38 ordinary hours per week and their hours are reasonably predictable, as per a written agreement.Does not have guaranteed hours of work.

Minimum Engagement Periods 

According to the latest SCHADS review amendments, both part-time employees and casual employees have minimum engagement periods. In other words, employees must pay them for at least the following number of hours per shift (or period of work in a broken shift): 

  • Social and community services employees (except when doing disability services work): 3 hours
  • Home care employees: 2 hours
  • All other employees: 2 hours

Casual Loading Rates 

As employees are not given the same entitlements as full-time and part-time employees under the SCHADS Award, they are paid a loading of 25% in addition to their base rate of pay. This loading essentially makes up for the lack of paid annual and personal leave entitlements, redundancy benefits and notice of termination. 

Right to Request Casual Conversion 

Employers with 15 or more employees are legally required to offer a casual employee who has worked for 12 months an opportunity to convert to full-time or part-time employment if they have worked a regular pattern of hours for the last 6 months, which they could continue working without significant adjustment as a full-time or part-time employee. However, such an offer is not required to be made where there are reasonable business grounds not to do so.

Where an employer has less than 15 employees, a casual employee may request to convert their employment type to full-time or part-time if they have been employed for at least 12 months and worked regular hours for the last 6 months. Employers can only refuse on reasonable business grounds. 

Minimum Pay Rates 

Employers must pay their employees under the SCHADS Award at least the pay rates and entitlements contained in the award weekly or fortnightly, depending on their pay cycle. 

The Fair Work website has various tools and resources to help you calculate your wage obligations. Alternatively, you can access the pay guide summaries, which contain information about pay rates, penalties and allowances. 

Ordinary Hours of Work Under the SCHADS Award

The ordinary hours per week for full-time employees under the SCHADS Award are 38 hours per week or an ​​average of 38 hours per week. Employers can structure these hours of work in the following ways: 

  • a five-day week with 8-hour shifts;
  • a fortnight of 76 hours split over 10 shifts that don’t exceed 8 hours each, or
  • a month (i.e. 4 weeks) of 152 hours split over 19 shifts that don’t exceed 8 hours. 

Provided the employee is not a shift work employee (see shift work discussion below), these hours can be worked within the span of hours between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm from Monday to Sunday. 

It’s also worth noting that employers can increase the length of a shift from 8 hours to 10 hours but only upon mutual agreement in writing. 

Shift Work Employees

Employees who don’t work within the ordinary span of hours (i.e. between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm, Monday to Sunday) are shift workers for the purpose of the SCHADS Award. 

Employers are required to advise shift workers, including the period during which their shifts will ordinarily be worked.  For example, the employer may advise employees that they may be rostered to work at any time 24/7 Monday to Sunday, including public holidays. Certain rules must be followed in relation to displaying rosters and changes to rosters.

Typically, shift workers perform some their shifts during the evening (or public holidays) – which also means that they receive penalty rates in addition to their base rate of pay: 

Shift TypePenalty Rate (Additional Loading Rate: % of Minimum Hourly Rate)
Afternoon shift – shift ends after 8:00 pm and at or before midnight, Monday to Friday12.5%
Night shift – shift ends after midnight or starts
before 6:00 am, Monday to Friday
Public holiday shift – any time worked on a
public holiday

Shift workers are instead paid Saturday and Sunday penalty rates when they work ordinary hours on a Saturday or Sunday.  These rates are set out below.

Penalty Rates for Saturday and Sunday Work

Full-time and part-time employees who work on weekends as part of their ordinary hours of work (including shift workers) must receive penalty rates for Saturday and Sunday work: 

  • Ordinary hours worked on Saturday – 150% penalty rate 
  • Ordinary hours worked on Sunday – 200% penalty rate

Note: these extra rates substitute shift premiums under the SCHADS Award and don’t apply to any overtime that the employee works. 

Casual employees who work on weekends as part of their ordinary hours of work must receive penalty rates for Saturday and Sunday work in addition to their loading rates:

  • Ordinary hours worked on Saturday – 150% penalty rate + 25% loading = 175%
  • Ordinary hours worked on Sunday – 200% penalty rate + 25% loading = 225%

Penalty Rates for Public Holiday work

On public holidays, full-time and part-time employees are paid 250% of their base pay rate, except for casual employees who are paid 275% of their usual pay rate (inclusive of casual loading).

Rates for Employees Who Work Overtime

Where a full-time employee works beyond their ordinary hours of work, they will be entitled to receive an overtime rate for the additional hours of work as follows: 

Monday to SaturdaySunday Public Holidays 
Disability Services, Home Care and Day Care employees150% of their ordinary rate for the first 2 hours and 200% for any hours worked thereafter200% of their ordinary rate250% of their ordinary rate
Social and community Services and Crisis Accommodation employees150% of their ordinary rate for the first 3 hours and 200% for any hours worked thereafter200% of their ordinary rate250% of their ordinary rate

Where a part-time or casual employee exceeds 10 hours per day, 38 hours per week or 76 hours per fortnight, they will be entitled to receive an overtime rate for the additional hours of work as follows:

Monday to SaturdaySunday Public Holidays 
Part-time and casual employees in all sectors 150% of their ordinary rate for the first 2 hours and 200% for any hours
worked thereafter
200% of their ordinary rate250% of their ordinary rate

Following the latest review of the SCHADS Award, effective from 1 July 2022, where a part-time or casual employee works outside of their agreed-upon span of hours, this will be considered overtime for the purpose of this award and will also receive overtime rate in accordance with the table above. 

Remember: casual employees receive the casual loading in addition to these rates.

Can Employees Request Time Off Instead of Overtime?

Under the SCHADS Award, employers and employees may agree to the employee taking time off instead of receiving overtime rates. The agreement must, however, meet specific conditions including that: 

  • the agreement must be in writing;
  • the time off must be the same number of hours as the number of overtime hours worked (e.g. an employee who worked 3 hours of overtime is entitled to 3 hours off); 
  • employees must take the time off within 3 months of working the overtime (or be paid for the overtime); and 
  • if an employee decides they would rather receive payment, then the employer must pay the overtime immediately.

Other Overtime Conditions that Employers Must Note 

Beyond the additional pay rates and time off, the SCHADS Award sets out additional conditions that apply when an employee works overtime: 

  • Rest period after overtime: full-time and part-time employees must receive at least 10 consecutive hours off after working overtime and before their next shift starts, without loss of pay. If they don’t receive the 10 hours rest period, they must be paid a 200% penalty rate for each hour until they finish their shift – after which they must receive their 10 hours rest period. 
  • Recall to work: if an employee is called back to work after their work day or shift ends (i.e. they left the premises), they must be paid for at least 2 hours at their base rate of pay (even if they don’t work the full 2 hours). 
  • Breaks during overtime: if an employee has to work more than 4 hours of overtime after they have been called back to work, they must have a 20-minute meal break and another 20-minute break for each subsequent 5 hours of overtime. The employer must provide the meal, or a meal allowance if they are unable to provide the meal.

Employees Must Receive Breaks

Employees under the SCHADS Award are entitled to receive meal breaks and tea breaks throughout their shift. 

Meal Breaks

If an employee has worked more than five hours, they must take a 30- to 60-minute unpaid meal break. Employees who are required to work through their meal break will receive overtime pay until they can take their meal break.

Alternatively, if the employee needs to eat with a client as part of their normal work routine, they will receive their normal ordinary rates during the meal period. In other words, their meal break will be paid and it counts as time worked.

Tea Breaks

Employees must be provided with with paid 10-minute tea breaks every 4 hours worked which count as part of their working hours.

Employee Rosters Under the SCHADS Award

The SCHADS Award sets out certain rules for rostering employees, including: 

  • employees are to receive their rosters at least two weeks prior to the shift period;
  • employees are to receive at least 7 days’ notice of any changes to the rosters (additional provisions apply to client cancellations – see below); and
  • where an employee is absent due to illness or an emergency, or where employees propose an agreed shift swap between themselves, employers can alter rosters at any time. 

These roster rules don’t apply to part-time employees where the only change is the mutually agreed addition of extra hours, provided the employee still has 4 rostered days off in that fortnight or either rostered days off in a 28 day cycle.

Note: casual employees don’t need to receive a roster to comply with SCHADS Award rules, although many employers do choose to roster casuals.

Client Cancellations

For employees who work in the home care and disability services sectors, additional provisions apply for roster changes in the event a client cancels. These provisions apply depending on when the client cancelled:  

  • With 7 or more days’ notice: the same provisions as above apply 
  • With less than 7 days’ notice: direct the employee to do other reasonable work during those hours for which they were rostered or direct the employee to do “make up time” during another roster day, provided the rules in the SCHADS Award in relation to “make up” time are complied with. 

If the employer decides to cancel the shift altogether, with less than 12 hours’ notice, the employee must get paid regardless. 

Broken Shifts

In some instances, employers may roster employees, who work in disability services or home care, to work a broken shift. A broken shift entails working with one or two breaks in between their shifts. For example, it would be a broken shift where an employee who is a shift worker, works 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and then 7:00 pm to 12:00 am. 

Following the recent review of the SCHADS award, effective from 1 July 2022, employers can:

  • only roster an employee to work a broken shift comprised of two periods of work with one unpaid break (other than a meal break); or
  • agree with an employee, for the employee to work a broken shift comprised of three periods of work with two unpaid breaks (other than a meal break). 

Employees who work a broken shift also receive a broken shift allowance. 


Some organisations provide 24/7 care for clients, which means an employee is likely to have to do work during the night as part of their job description. These shifts may be ‘wakeover’ shifts where an employee is paid to work, or ‘sleepover’ shifts where the employee is required to sleep on the premises.

The SCHADS Award ‘sleepover’ provisions require: 

  • The employer to provide the employee with a separate room, bed, clean linen and appropriate facilities;
  • The sleepover shift to be 8 consecutive hours;
  • The employee to be paid a a sleepover allowance;
  • Where the employer performs work during the sleepover period, they must receive overtime rates for at least one hour (even if it doesn’t take one hour to perform the work);
  • The employer to roster the employee for at least 4 hours of work either before or after the sleepover.

24-Hour Care

A 24-hour care shift differs from a sleepover shift in that the employee must be available to perform their duties in a client’s home for a 24 hour period. 

During the 24-hour period, the employee is only allowed to perform the services in their care plan for 8 hours. If they agree to work more than 8 hours, they must receive the relevant overtime rates or time off instead (i.e. 150% of their ordinary rate for the first 2 hours and 200% for any hours worked thereafter). 

During the shift, the employee should be able to sleep for a continuous period of 8 hours and, a separate room, bed, clean linen and appropriate facilities.

Rostered Days Off

The SCHADS award requires that full-time and part-time employees be free from duty for at least 2 full days each week, or 4 days each fortnight, or 8 days each 28-day cycle. The days off should be consecutive, if practicable.

What are the SCHADS Allowances?

Employees under the SCHADS Award receive additional pay, in the form of allowances, for specific work conditions and work-related skills: 

Allowance TypeDescription
Uniform allowancePaid to employees if the employer doesn’t provide uniforms but requires them to wear a uniform.
Laundry allowancePaid to employee if the employer does not launder the uniforms free of charge.
Overtime Meal allowanceIf the employer is unable to provide a meal to an employee who has to work at least one hour of overtime, they must pay the employee an overtime meal allowance.
First aid allowancePaid to an employee who has first-aid qualifications that they must use as part of their job description. 
On call allowancePaid to employees that must be on call.
Sleepover allowanceEmployees who have to work sleepover shifts must receive a sleepover allowance.
Vehicle allowanceWhere an employee needs to use their own vehicle to perform their duties, the employer must pay them a vehicle allowance.
Broken Shift allowancePaid to an employee who has to work a broken shift.
Hot work allowancePaid to employees that need to work more than one hour in artificially raised temperatures.

These allowances are generally expressed as a percentage of the employee’s base rate of pay and are adjusted annually. You can access the full allowance conditions in clause 20 of the SCHADS Award and the allowance rates in the relevant pay guide. 

What Happens When an Employee Must Perform Higher Duties?

In some cases, an employer might require an employee to perform duties to which a higher wage rate applies than their current classification.

Where a home care employee is required to perform higher duties: 

  • 2 hours or less: if the employee carries out higher duties for 2 hours or less, they must receive the higher wage rate for the time worked.
  • More than 2 hours: if the employee carries out higher duties for more than 2 hours, they must receive the higher wage rate for the full day or shift.

For all other employees who are required to perform higher duties, where required to perform  higher duties for five or more consecutive days, they must receive pay at the higher rate for the entire period of performing the higher duties.

New Remote Work Provisions

The Fair Work Commission recently introduced new provisions pertaining to SCHADS employees who do remote work. These provisions apply to employees who are required to perform duties (such as respond to emails or phone calls) outside of their ordinary hours, which do not require them to return to their place of work. 

The following pay conditions apply to employees who perform remote work: 

  • a minimum payment of 15 minutes’ pay where the employee is ‘on call’ between 6.00 am and 10.00 pm;
  • a minimum payment of 30 minutes’ pay where the employee is ‘on call’ between 10.00 pm and 6.00 am;
  • a minimum payment of one hour’s pay where the employee is not on call; and
  • a minimum payment of one hour’s pay where the remote work involves remotely participating in staff meetings or training. 

Any time that is worked beyond the prescribed minimum payments above must be rounded up to the nearest 15 minutes. For example, if an employee works for 2 hours and 10 minutes, they’ll be paid for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

An employer must pay their employee’s minimum hourly rate for remote work, but there will be instances where the pay rate will attract additional loading, such as remote work outside of the hours between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm; where more than 38 hours per week or 76 hours per fortnight is worked, or working on weekends or public holidays.

Superannuation Guarantee

All employers must pay a superannuation guarantee on behalf of their employees. The current rate is 10.5% of an employee’s ordinary earnings for the 2022/23 financial year.

What are the Annual Leave Provisions?

The National Employment Standards (NES) prescribes the annual leave provisions for employees who are covered by the SCHADS Award. However, some additional provisions in the SCHADS Award also apply.  

Employers must apply a rate of 17.5% leave loading on top of their annual leave when an employee takes annual leave. 

According to these provisions, employees must receive the higher of:

  • an annual leave loading of 17.5% of their ordinary pay rate; or
  • the weekend and shift penalties the employee would have received if they weren’t on leave during that period.

Shift workers receive 5 weeks of paid annual leave if they are available seven days a week and regularly rostered to work on Sundays and public holidays. 

The Fair Work Commission also considers employees who perform at least eight 24-hour care shifts during the year to be shift workers for the purposes of the National Employment Standards (NES) and must receive one additional week of annual leave.

Key Takeaways

The SCHADS Award is a complex document that can be difficult to interpret. If you are unsure of your obligations under the award, it may be in your best interests to engage the services of an employment law firm. 

WilliamsonBarwick lawyers are experienced in dealing with the SCHADS Award and can help you to understand your compliance obligations. We can also assist you with any disputes that may arise under the award.

Contact us today to discuss your needs.

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