In March 2010, unions representing social and community sector and disability workers lodged an application for an equal remuneration order with Fair Work Australia (FWA). The application aimed to increase the pay of workers covered by the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Industry Award (formerly SACS award).

On 1 February 2012 FWA handed down its final decision on the case. The bench’s decision will bring rates of pay for most community sector workers throughout the nation into alignment with the historic Queensland pay equity decision and acknowledges that the work of our sector has been undervalued based on gender for far too long.

The order applies to workers in the SACS and CASH classifications of the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (modern award). The order is separate to the modern award and set out as a percentage on top of the modern award rates. 

The order awards increases of between 19 and 41 per cent. These increases are to be paid over an eight year period in nine equal installments on 1 December each year, commencing in December 2012 and ending in December 2020. The graduate entry points for three and four year graduates were also increased one pay point on the new Modern Award scale.

The decision includes cumulative annual loadings to account for impediments to bargaining in the sector. These loadings total 4 per cent over the eight years and are to be paid over the same nine instalments. This loading will be in addition to Annual Award Wage Reviews so that the decision is not eroded over the implementation period.

It is important for Queensland organisations to remember that for affected organisations the Queensland Transitional Pay Equity Order prevails until the federal rates are equal to or better than the Queensland rates. Affected organisations are those who were bound by the original Queensland decision or who will be tied to it through the re-drafted Fair Work Regulations, which is expected in the coming weeks.

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