SCHADS Award: How to Stay Compliant

Asha Neil

Written on 3 October, 2022
The complex and confusing SCHADS award can make compliance a headache for even the most organised employer. However, by building awards compliance into your rostering and time tracking, you can reduce the likelihood of pay rate errors.

Keep reading as we break down the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry (SCHADS) award requirements and how to stay compliant, from minimum pay rates to the meal break.

What Is the SCHADS Award, aka the Social Work Award? 

The SCHADS award is the main social work and disability services industry award. It details the minimum rate for disability services work and social and community services. This includes base rates, overtime and penalty rates and allowances.

The award mandates a different pay point for specific hours of the day and days of the week, as well as for the staff level (which is based on their experience, qualifications and more).

SCHADS Award Classification Definitions and Pay Points: A Simple Breakdown 

The main award classifications include:

Pay Point

The pay point (i.e. the minimum wage) for each worker depends on their award level (we'll touch on that soon) and when they work.

In addition to one pay point for ordinary hours — referred to as "hourly rate" — the award provides a pay point for 20 extra shift times or dates. These include:

  • Weekend and public holiday rates

  • Afternoon and night shifts

  • Overtime

  • Shifts with less than a 10-hour break between them

Award Level

Each staff member must be assigned an award level and a pay point, e.g. level 1 — pay point 3 or level 8 — pay point 1.

After 12 months, a staff member is eligible for a higher pay point if they have demonstrated satisfactory performance and used new or enhanced skills. For this reason, a performance appraisal scheme is an important part of award compliance.

Example: Minimum Pay at SCHADS Award Level 4 and SCHADS Award Level 5

The SCHADS award has eight levels, each split into pay points. For example, using ordinary hourly rates:

  • Level 4 — pay point 1: $39.26

  • Level 4 — pay point 2 $40.29

  • Level 4 — pay point 3 $41.32

  • Level 4 — pay point 4 $42.25

  • Level 5 — pay point 1 $44.92

  • Level 5 — pay point 2 $45.88

  • Level 5 — pay point 3 $46.95

With an employee moving up to the next pay point every 12 months, a level 4 worker could reach the maximum pay point in three years.

Casual Employee

Casual employees do not have guaranteed hours. As such, their minimum pay points are higher.

Crisis Accommodation Employees and Family Day Care Employees

Family day care and crisis accommodation employees also have a higher minimum pay point.

Part Time Employee

Part time employees have the same minimum pay point, but some of their allowances (e.g. the first aid allowance) are pro rata.

Broken Shift

Only workers undertaking disability services work can be assigned a broken shift, i.e. shifts with breaks longer than a meal break. They have a different pay point.

Minimum Hours

Staff must be paid for a minimum number of hours per shift. In a broken shift, this applies to all parts of the shift.

For most social and community services employees, the minimum length is three hours. However, for disability services, it's two hours.

Meal Break

Employees are entitled to an unpaid meal break after a set number of hours. If they have to undertake work related tasks during their meal break, they must be paid at the overtime rate until they have taken a non-working meal break.

How to Stay Compliant with the Social and Community Services Award

Good processes will help you stay on top of the incredibly complex SCHADS award:

1. Understand the Award Pay Points

Make sure you're aware of the most recent pay points and minimum shift periods. The Fair Work Ombudsman publishes the details of the award online.

You won't be able to memorise the roughly 3,000 pay points plus the various allowances. However, you should know the categories for different pay points and when your workers are entitled to a meal break.

2. Roster Carefully

Careful rostering of your disability support workers and other employees will help you run a more financially efficient business. Pay attention to:

  • Broken shifts

  • Shift times and pay points

  • The meal break

  • Minimum payments

Doing this manually would be time-consuming. Fortunately, your rostering software should give you the oversight you need. By automating a draft roster and then taking a per-worker view, you can quickly spot potential issues and resolve them.

3. Track Time Accurately 

Trouble with clocking in and out can quickly lead to SCHADS award compliance issues. Ideally, you'll have an electronic system, for example, getting staff to clock in and out on their phone. This is both less vulnerable to human error and easier to sync with your accounting and payroll software.

4. Automate Pay Rates and Minimum Shifts

With thousands of pay points, manually reviewing payroll for disability support and community services employees could take hours.

Instead, add the SCHADS award information to your accounting and NDIS or aged care software. You should be able to set pay points and allowances, as well as a minimum period for each staff member.

Tools That Will Keep You Compliant 

The right software will give you the confidence that you’re being compliant. It will help you manage SCHADS pay points and allowances, and in doing so, set your mind at rest that you're paying the minimum wage.

With ShiftCare, you can input award rates, allowances and minimum periods for different staff members. The information is easy to update and the software integrates smoothly with major accounting and payroll programs. Plus, it has intuitive rostering tools with per-worker and per-client views, and a whole host of additional features for providing aged care and disability services.

Try ShiftCare for free to see how it can make SCHADS award compliance easy.

Like this story? Share it with others.

You may also like these stories

Start your free 7 day trial.

Deliver a higher standard of care, all from just $9 per user a month.


Support Rating


Hours Scheduled


Clients Supported


Revenue Generated

Would you like to visit our site?