SCHADS Award Guide

The SCHADS Award sets the standards for employment in the social, community, home care, and disability services sectors. This guide breaks down its key provisions, simplifying essential information about work hours, pay rates, overtime, breaks, allowances, and more for both employees and employers.

Overview of the SCHADS Award

The Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award) establishes the minimum employment standards for a wide range of roles within the social and community services sector. This includes organisations like charities, not-for-profits and NDIS providers.

Why is understanding the SCHADS Award important?

  • Ensuring your business practices align with the SCHADS Award is essential to avoid legal and financial penalties.
  • Fairness and transparency around pay, working conditions and entitlements support in maintaining a positive workplace.
  • Being known as an ethical and compliant employer strengthens your business' brand.

If you require any assistance in understanding your employer obligations under the SCHADS Award, please contact us by calling our 24/7 Employer Assist Line at 1300 144 002.

Who the SCHADS Award covers

The SCHADS Award establishes workplace standards for employers and employees across several diverse social and community service sectors. These include:

  • Crisis assistance and supported housing providing emergency support and accommodation.
  • Social and community services offering social support, community development, welfare work, and similar services.
  • Home care services offering personal care and domestic assistance services delivered in a client's home.
  • Family daycare services and providers of in-home childcare services.

The SCHADS Award has separate rules ("streams") for each of these industries, so it's essential to determine which stream applies to your business and its employees.

Who the SCHADS Award doesn't cover

The SCHADS Award generally does not apply to the following types of businesses:

  • Aged care organisations which typically fall under the Aged Care Award 2010.
  • Leisure and recreation as the Amusement, Events, and Recreation Award 2010 likely applies.
  • Fitness Industry typically falls under the Fitness Industry Award 2010.
  • Healthcare, medical and dental providers under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010.
  • Nurses and midwives which likely fall under the Nurses Award 2010.

The SCHADS Award covers clerical workers in the social and community services and family daycare sectors. However, clerical workers in the crisis assistance and supported housing or home care sectors likely fall under the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020.

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Coverage definitions and the SCHADS Award streams

Crisis Assistance and Supported Housing Sector

This stream of the SCHADS Award applies to organisations providing vital support during times of crisis. This includes:

  • Emergency accommodation - Short-term housing solutions for individuals or families in need.
  • Supported housing - Longer-term housing options with additional support services for those who cannot live independently.

Social and Community Services Sector

This broad stream encompasses a diverse range of organisations dedicated to improving the wellbeing of individuals and communities. It includes:

  • Social work - Professionals addressing social issues, providing counseling, and case management services.
  • Recreation work - Programs and activities that promote fitness, leisure, and social interaction.
  • Welfare work - Support services focused on basic needs, financial assistance, and advocacy.
  • Youth work - Services tailored to young people, offering guidance, mentoring, and skill development.
  • Community development work - Strengthening communities through collaborative initiatives and projects.
  • Policy and advocacy organisations - Groups shaping policies and advocating for social change in relation to the above areas.
  • Disability services - Providing personal care, domestic assistance, and lifestyle support to individuals with disabilities in community and residential settings, including respite care.

Home Care Sector

This stream focuses on essential in-home services for those who require extra support to live independently, including:

  • Personal care - Assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, and hygiene.
  • Domestic assistance - Household tasks like cleaning, cooking, and shopping.
  • Home maintenance - Basic repairs and upkeep to maintain a safe living environment.

Family Daycare Scheme Sector

This stream applies to the organised provision of childcare in a home setting, including:

  • Family daycare schemes and organisations that coordinate and facilitate in-home childcare services.
  • Family daycare providers and individuals offering childcare services from their own homes.

Classifications levels and pay points

In the SCHADS Award, every employee must be assigned a specific classification level. This level determines their minimum pay rate and reflects their skills, experience, and responsibilities.  It's essential to notify your employees of their classification in writing when they start and if their classification changes.

Some classification levels within the SCHADS Award are divided into pay points. Think of these as steps within a specific job classification. Typically, employees become eligible to move up a pay point after 12 months of continuous employment within a particular level.  To progress, they must demonstrate:

  • Competency and satisfactory work performance where they consistently performing their job duties to a high standard.
  • Skill development by acquiring and applying any new or enhanced skills their employer has indicated are necessary.
  • Positive performance appraisals by receiving a favourable review through their employer's appraisal system.

Moving to a higher classification level (e.g., moving from Level 2 to Level 3) typically requires a formal promotion or reclassification process.

A recent Federal Circuit Court decision brought important clarification. While an employee may become eligible for consideration for progression to the next pay point after 12 months of satisfactory performance, this progression is not automatic.

The employer ultimately determines whether to promote or reclassify the employee to the higher pay point. An employer will consider factors such as any new skills or additional tasks performed by the employee, or in some cases, it may relate to obtaining specific qualifications relevant to their role.

Remember, the SCHADS Award has separate streams, and each stream has slightly different rules about how classifications are applied. This is particularly important when it comes to clerical work. Businesses in the social and community services sector and the family daycare scheme sector will fall under the SCHADS Award for clerical classifications.

However, if your business provides crisis assistance and supported housing or home care services, the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020 will likely apply to your clerical workers.

Surprisingly, the SCHADS Award can even apply to very senior employees – including CEOs in certain cases. The case of Ms. Veronica Cubillo v North Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service [2011] FWA 6818 demonstrated this.  This emphasises how important it is to correctly classify all employees to ensure compliance with the Award and avoid any legal complications.

Classifications for Social and Community Services

Level 1: Entry level and trainees

Employees at Level 1 are usually new to the industry or working as trainees. They require close supervision and are still developing their skills.  It's important to note that Level 1 is for roles that do not involve social work or welfare-related tasks.  Typically at this level, employees focus on:

  • Basic clerical tasks including administrative and support duties.
  • Personal care including assisting with daily living activities for clients.
  • Domestic duties including household tasks like cleaning and meal preparation.
Progression to pay point 2

Level 1 has two pay points. Employees primarily focused on domestic duties, with some personal care support, will be expected to progress to Pay Point 2 under the following circumstances:

  • Full-time - after they gain 12 months of experience in the industry.
  • Part-time - after they have completed 1976 hours of work in the industry.
Level 2: Qualified newcomers

Employees classified at Level 2 might be new to the industry but possess relevant qualifications (like a Certificate IV or Diploma).  Those entering the field with these qualifications typically start at Pay Point 2 within this level. Employees holding a Diploma can expect to advance to Pay Point 3 after demonstrating 12 months of satisfactory performance in their role (assuming full-time hours).

While employees at this level contribute to developing client plans and activities, they work within clearly defined procedures. Problem-solving often involves seeking guidance from more senior staff, however, employees at this level are able to use some independent judgment within their role.

Level 3: Experienced and skilled contributors

Employees at Level 3 have gained significant experience within the social and community services sector. They hold relevant qualifications and often take on supervisory roles, guiding employees at lower levels.  These employees demonstrate a thorough understanding of their job responsibilities and the procedures involved in their work.

While employees at this level can show initiative when carrying out  tasks, they should also recognise when to consult resources or seek support from more senior colleagues for problem-solving.

Specific to pay points within Level 3:

  • Employees with a three-year degree generally start at Pay Point 3.
  • Employees with a four-year degree generally start at Pay Point 4.
Level 4:  Specialists and team leaders

Employees at Level 4 bring a combination of education and experience to their roles.  Typical pathways into this level include:

  • A relevant four-year degree plus one year of relevant experience.
  • A three-year degree plus two years of relevant experience.
  • An Associate Diploma with significant relevant experience.
  • Extensive industry experience that may offset lower formal qualifications.

Level 4 employees work with considerable autonomy. While general procedures and guidelines are in place, they have the ability to  develop goals and refine work processes. Employees at this level often supervise lower-level staff, particularly in complex situations, or may lead a team.

Their in-depth experience allows Level 4 employees to provide specialised advice within their field. They possess a strong understanding of relevant policies related to programs and activities.  Employees who function independently as "sole employees" would typically start at this classification level.

Level 5: Experienced leaders and advisors

Employees at Level 5 demonstrate a high degree of competence, working with significant autonomy under the general direction of senior management. Their work draws upon a deep well of knowledge and skills, often spanning multiple areas of expertise.  They may be called on to innovate and establish new methods or practices to achieve outcomes.

Level 5 employees play a role in developing organisational programs and procedures, and may even contribute to budget preparation. Supervision is a key part of this role, offering expert guidance to lower-level employees and volunteers.

Managing workflow, organising tasks (both their own and those of others), and building positive working relationships are all essential skills for success at this level. Level 5 employees may lead specific functions or projects, ensuring their work aligns with the business' broader goals.

Level 6: Managers and decision makers

Level 6 employees operate with a high degree of independence, receiving only broad direction from senior management. They drive the development of operational practices, policies, and guidelines, taking on significant responsibility for shaping the organisation's activities and success.

This might include responsibilities such as budget preparation and establishing work procedures. Negotiating on behalf of the organisation is a potential task at this level, reflecting a deep understanding of the organisation's long-term objectives.

Level 6 employees utilise their expertise to guide and make decisions that impact lower-level management. They set specific goals and outcomes aligned with the overall direction of the organisation. As key members of project teams, they play a central role in designing and coordinating programs.

Level 7: Leadership team members

Community services employees at Level 7 work with a high degree of independence and have significant managerial authority within the business. Their expertise allows them to function as specialists within a professional team or work across multiple functional areas.

Level 7 employees play a central role in establishing programs, procedures, and work practices, making high-level decisions that shape the organisation. They provide expert advice throughout, manage other employees, set key goals and outcomes, and may negotiate strategically on behalf of the business.

Level 8: Executive team members

Employees at Level 8 represent the highest level of leadership within the organisation. They are given broad direction from senior organisational officers and wield substantial managerial responsibility for the organisation as a whole. Level 8 employees might specialise in very particular areas, providing advice to various departments, board members, or committee members. They play a major role in developing and implementing organisational techniques and practices.

Financial, technical, and specialised policy advice (both internal and related to government policies) falls within the purview of Level 8 employees. These individuals will shape the company's strategies and guide it towards its long-term goals. Their expertise positions them to identify innovative solutions and discover the best solutions to challenges or situations that fall outside the norm.

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Classifications for Crisis Accommodation Employees

Level 1: Industry newcomers and trainees

Newcomers in the Crisis Accommodation sector start at Level 1. They work under the guidance of more experienced colleagues following established processes and procedures. Employees at this level manage their own workload and may also provide limited supervision to others, requiring a basic understanding of HR practices to support and train their team members.

Pay Points within Level 1:

  • Employees with a relevant three-year degree generally start at Pay Point 3.
  • Employees with a relevant four-year degree generally start at Pay Point 4.
Level 2: Experienced practitioners and advisors

Employees at Level 2 bring a blend of qualifications and field experience to their roles. They supervise lower-level staff in complex situations and offer specialised advice based on their expertise. Level 2 employees demonstrate a strong grasp of program policies, activity guidelines, and operational procedures, either within their own area or across multiple functions.

Typical pathways into Level 2 include:

  • A relevant four-year degree plus one year of relevant experience.
  • A three-year degree plus two years of relevant experience.
  • An Associate Diploma with significant relevant experience.
  • Extensive industry experience that may offset lower formal qualifications.

Employees working independently ("sole employees") and those taking on specialised services often start at Level 2 once they have acquired the necessary experience for these responsibilities.

Level 3: Seasoned experts and team leaders

Employees at Level 3 possess in-depth experience in complex roles within the Crisis Accommodation sector, such as intensive family support work, counseling, or court support advocacy. They supervise and mentor smaller teams, sharing their expertise with colleagues.

Level 3 employees participate in shaping organisational programs and procedures, providing guidance to staff at lower levels. Their experience gives them a strong understanding of WHS legislation and regulations, and they apply these effectively within the business.

Level 4: Managers and skilled specialists

Employees at Level 4 typically function in managerial roles, utilising their advanced expertise within a specific professional area. They directly influence business operations and possess a deep understanding of its long-term goals.  Negotiating on behalf of the business may be part of their role.

Level 4 employees assist with organisational management, contribute to budget preparation, develop procedures and practices, make key decisions, delegate tasks, coordinate programs, and provide expert guidance and advice. Graduates entering roles that directly align with their qualifications and involve the above responsibilities typically start at Pay Point 2 within this level.

Classifications for Home Care Employees

Level 1: New to Home Care

Employees at Level 1 typically have less than 12 months of experience in the home care sector. They focus on semi-skilled tasks that support clients' daily lives. This includes household chores like cleaning, laundry, and basic meal preparation. Level 1 employees may also assist with shopping, errands, banking, appointments, pet care, and plant care.

Level 2: Personal care and skilled support

Employees at Level 2 have either completed the requirements of Level 1, possess a Home Care Certificate (or equivalent), or have gained equivalent skills through relevant experience and on-the-job training. Their role focuses on providing personal care and more advanced support services to clients. This includes assisting with daily hygiene, dressing, and grooming, as well as meal preparation and support.

Level 2 employees also help with household tasks like cleaning, laundry, gardening, and basic repairs. They may support clients with medication management, fitting/changing catheters, communication, and accompanying clients on outings. Additionally, Level 2 employees might provide general domestic assistance and help organise appointments.

Level 3: Skilled team members and supervisors

Employees at Level 3 generally possess either an accredited qualification at the Certificate 3 level or demonstrate equivalent knowledge and skills acquired through on-the-job training. They work under general supervision and can clearly explain procedures and practices to other employees or clients. Level 3 employees exercise personal judgment within specialised areas where procedures are well-established.

Typical tasks at this level include administrative support, meal planning and special events, supervision (usually up to four people), advanced personal care, maintenance scheduling, and diversional therapy.

Level 4: Coordination and specialised care

Employees at Level 4 typically possess qualifications beyond those required for Level 3, demonstrating expertise gained through further study or significant work experience. They function with more autonomy than those at Level 3,  offering input into policies and planning.

Level 4 employees supervise or train subordinate staff, manage budgets for their areas of responsibility, and may directly oversee client care delivery. They have an advanced understanding of procedures and techniques and may provide specialised care to those with complex or challenging needs.

Level 5: Specialists and coordinators

Employees at Level 5 blend formal qualifications with significant work experience. Their qualifications typically extend beyond those obtained through a TAFE certificate or associate diploma. This might include a degree or diploma with minimal work experience, or substantial relevant work experience combined with less formal qualifications. Level 5 positions often involve roles such as care coordinator, foreperson, or maintenance supervisor.

Key responsibilities at Level 5 include coordinating resources and providing support to senior staff, or specialising in a particular area. They are accountable for ensuring the quality, efficiency, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness of programs, projects, or work plans within their sphere of control, as well as safeguarding assets under their management.

Level 5 employees demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the relevant technologies, procedures, and processes within their operating unit. Additionally, they provide leadership, direction, and structured training to supervised employees and effectively manage time, priorities, and workload for both themselves and their team.

Classifications for Family Day Care Employees

Level 1: Supportive and entry level roles

Employees at Level 1 provide support services within the Family Day Care environment. They work with clearly defined goals and receive close supervision. Strong communication skills (both written and verbal), as well as basic numeracy skills, are essential for success in this role. Level 1 employees may assist with childcare provider training or take on support tasks related to social and learning activities, such as equipment maintenance, monitoring, and basic cataloguing.

Level 2: Increased autonomy and responsibility

Employees at Level 2 operate with greater independence than those at Level 1. They may oversee specific functions within the business, like coordinating or administering a particular unit. To be successful at Level 2, employees should have knowledge of child development, health, hygiene, welfare, and safety issues relevant to the Family Day Care setting.

Level 3: Specialist roles and supervisors

Employees at Level 3 work with considerable autonomy, requiring minimal supervision compared to Level 2. They are directly involved in service delivery, which might include field work to monitor childcare standards, recruiting and training providers, liaising with parents and government agencies, and coordinating child placements. At Level 3, employees may also hold responsibility for the overall coordination of a unit, including complex administrative tasks.

Where qualifications are not explicitly mandated by State or Statutes, a combination of relevant experience in this or a related field and the ability to demonstrate appropriate skills and techniques are essential.

Level 4: Leadership and program management

Employees at Level 4 take on leadership roles in administering and coordinating services within the Family Day Care sector. They demonstrate a wide-ranging understanding of childcare, community development, welfare issues, community education, and how to effectively manage services.

Key responsibilities at Level 4 include contributing to service planning, developing policies, and ensuring compliance with statutory requirements. These employees oversee multiple programs, which might involve the recruitment and training of childcare providers, planning educational programs, policy development, and financial management and reporting.

Specific qualifications are mandated by State Regulations.

Level 5: Strategic and senior leadership

Employees at Level 5 operate with a significant degree of independence, demonstrating advanced skills and taking on greater responsibility compared to Level 4. They hold leadership roles, overseeing the comprehensive management of complex Family Day Care schemes.

Level 5 employees function with substantial autonomy in managing the financial and human resources aspects of the scheme, and they play a key role in advising the management committee on major policy areas and issues critical to the business. Their responsibilities may extend across multiple services.

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Types of Employment


A full-time employee works an average of 38 ordinary hours per week. They can be compensated either on an hourly basis or through a salary.


Part-time employees work fewer than 38 ordinary hours per week (or across a roster cycle) and have a reasonably predictable work schedule.  A written agreement is required, outlining the following:

  • Guaranteed hours with a minimum number of hours the employee will work each week or roster cycle.
  • Working days being the specific days of the week the employee will work.
  • Start and finish times being the agreed start and end times for each workday.

Although the weekly guaranteed hours don't have to be identical every week, any changes to the agreed pattern of work require mutual agreement between the employee and employer.

Part-time employees can work additional hours beyond their guarantee and receive standard hourly rates as long as they don't exceed the maximum daily/weekly hours or work outside the span of ordinary hours set by the SCHADS Award.

Reviewing guaranteed hours

If a part-time employee consistently works more than their guaranteed hours for at least 12 months, they have the right to submit a written request to their employer asking to either formally change their agreement to reflect the actual hours worked or increase their guaranteed hours.

The employer must respond to this request in writing within 21 days. They can only refuse the request on reasonable business grounds. If refusing, the employer is obligated to discuss the situation with the employee and explore potential ways to increase the guaranteed hours.

Should the employer and employee agree to increase the guaranteed hours, the employer must update the written agreement to reflect this change.

An employee cannot request a review of guaranteed hours if they have either refused an offer to increase their hours within the past 6 months or if their previous request for an increase was denied on reasonable business grounds within the past 6 months.

Minimum engagements and shifts

Part-time employees must be scheduled for a minimum shift length, or per period in the case of a broken shift:

  • Social and Community Services employees (excluding disability services work) for a minimum of 3 hours per shift/period.
  • All other employees for a minimum of 2 hours per shift/period.

Casual employment

Casual employees lack guaranteed hours and typically have irregular work schedules. To compensate for the absence of benefits like annual leave, personal/carer's leave, notice of termination, and redundancy entitlements (which are granted to full and part-time employees), casuals receive a 25% loading on top of the standard permanent base pay rate.

Minimum engagements and shifts

Casual employees have minimum shift lengths (or minimum lengths for each period within a broken shift):

  • Social and Community Services employees (excluding those in disability services work) for a minimum of 3 hours per shift or period.
  • All other employees for a minimum of 2 hours per shift or period.

Understanding the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO)

The SCHADS Award includes an Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) specifically addressing pay rates for social and community services and crisis accommodation classifications. The ERO aims to correct historical undervaluation in these female-dominated sectors by ensuring pay equity with comparable roles in industries with predominantly male workforces.

Here's how the ERO works:

  • A percentage increase is applied to the minimum ordinary pay rates within the SCHADS Award. This uplift gradually increased annually until December 2020.
  • The ERO percentage increase is now fixed and consistently applied. Further increases in December are no longer required.
  • As of July 2022, the ERO-adjusted minimum pay rates are directly incorporated into the SCHADS Award (see tables at the end of clause 15).

Hours of work

The SCHADS Award sets a maximum of 38 ordinary hours per week, or an average of 38 hours across a work cycle.  These hours can be arranged in the following ways:

  • Weekly - up to 8-hour shifts across five days (extendable to 10 hours by mutual agreement).
  • Fortnightly - up to 8-hour shifts across ten days, totaling 76 hours.
  • Four-weeks - a total of 152 hours worked in 19 shifts of 8 hours each (if practical).

Day workers (who are non-shift workers) ordinary hours fall within a span of 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday through Sunday.

Saturday & Sunday work

Full-time and part-time employees who work ordinary hours on weekends receive enhanced pay.  For hours worked between midnight Friday and midnight Saturday, they are paid time and a half.  For hours worked between  midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday, they are paid double time.

Important Notes:

  • These weekend rates replace (rather than being added to) any shift premiums outlined in the Award.
  • These rates do not apply to overtime hours worked on weekends.

Casual weekend rates

Casual employees receive different weekend rates that already incorporate their casual loading.  For hours worked between midnight Friday and midnight Saturday, they are paid 175% of the ordinary rate. For hours worked between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday, they are paid 225% of the ordinary rate.

Public Holidays

Full-time and part-time employees who work on a public holiday receive double time and a half of their ordinary pay rate. Casual employees earn 275% of their ordinary rate (which includes their casual loading) for public holiday work. Remember, standard minimum engagement periods still apply on public holidays – there are no special minimum hour requirements specific to public holidays.

Shiftworkers have different public holiday pay rates. Consult the relevant section of the SCHADS Award for details.

Overtime for full-time employees

Full-time employees earn overtime rates for work beyond their rostered ordinary hours or outside the typical span of work for day workers. Rates vary depending on the day and employee classification:

Disability Services, Home Care, Daycare

  • Monday-Saturday, rate are time and a half for the first two hours, then double time thereafter.
  • Sunday rate are double time.
  • Public Holiday rates are double time and a half.

Social/Community Services, Crisis Accommodation

  • Monday-Saturday rates are time and a half for the first three hours, then double time thereafter.
  • Sunday rates are double time.
  • Public Holiday rates are double time and a half.

Overtime for part-time and casual employees

Overtime applies to part-time and casual employees when they exceed any of the following thresholds:

  • Working beyond 38 hours per week (or 76 hours per fortnight).
  • Working more than 10 hours in a single day.
  • Working outside the standard span of hours for day workers.

Overtime rates for part-timers and casual employees on:

  • Monday-Saturday rates are time and a half for the first two hours, then double time.
  • Sunday rates are double time.
  • Public Holidays rates are double time and a half.

An important note to remember is that casual loading for casual employees is on top of these overtime rates.

Part-time employees working extra hours (but remaining within the weekly, daily, and span of hours limits) are paid their standard hourly rate, not overtime. Overtime rates replace, rather than add to, any shift premiums outlined in Clause 29 of the SCHADS Award and standard hours worked on Saturday and Sunday do not qualify as overtime.

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Rest period after overtime

Full-time and part-time employees who work extensive overtime, resulting in less than 10 consecutive hours of rest before their next scheduled shift, have the following protections:

  1. The employee must be released from duty until they've had a full 10-hour break,  without losing pay for their originally scheduled hours.
  2. If the employer requires the employee to work before the 10-hour break is complete, the employee must be paid double time until they are released from duty.
  3. Upon release, the employee is entitled to the full 10-hour break without losing pay for their originally scheduled hours.

If an employee is recalled to a physical workplace (client's or employer's premises) after leaving for the day, they are guaranteed a minimum of two hours of pay at the appropriate overtime rate. This rule does not apply when an employee is asked to perform remote work from home.

An employee recalled to work overtime after leaving work who is required to work for more than four hours will be allowed a 20-minute meal break after the first four hours and an additional 20-minute break after each subsequent four hours of overtime. The employer is required to provide a meal during these breaks, free of charge. If a meal cannot be provided, the employee is entitled to a meal allowance (refer to the Allowances section of the SCHADS Award for details).


Meal breaks

Employees who work more than five hours are entitled to an unpaid meal break lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. The employer and employee should mutually agree on the timing of this break. If the employer requires the employee to take their meal break with a client, this break becomes paid and counts as time worked.  Should an employee be required to work through their meal break and continue working afterward, they will receive overtime pay for all time worked until they take their meal break.

Tea breaks

For every four hours worked, employees are entitled to a paid 10-minute tea break. This break counts as time worked, and the employer and employee should mutually agree on its timing.


A sleepover occurs when an employer requires an employee to sleep overnight at a client's location, including respite care facilities. Sleepovers should be included in the roster with two weeks' notice (clause 25.5). Employees have the right to refuse a sleepover for reasonable cause if it hasn't been properly scheduled.

The designated sleepover period is a continuous 8-hour span. Employees must be given a separate room with a bed and clean linens, use of appropriate facilities (including food preparation and staff facilities if available), and free board and lodging for each sleepover night. They also receive a sleepover allowance of 4.9% of the standard rate for each night.

If work is required during the sleepover, the employee is paid overtime rates with a minimum payment equivalent to one hour worked. Employers can schedule work immediately before or after the sleepover but must provide or pay for at least four hours of work. A shift with a sleepover counts as one shift, typically meaning night shift penalties apply to the entire shift, including the non-sleepover work.

24 hour care

A 24-hour care shift requires an employee to be available in a client's home for a full 24 hours. During this time, the employee actively provides care services (outlined in the care plan) for a maximum of 8 hours. Employees can refuse to work over 8 hours, but if they agree to do so, they are entitled to overtime or may choose to take time off in lieu. Overtime rates are time and a half for the first 2 hours, double time thereafter, double time on Sundays, and double time and a half on public holidays.

Employees must have the opportunity for 8 consecutive hours of sleep during a 24-hour care shift and be provided with clean linens and appropriate cooking and cleaning facilities (if available). For each 24-hour period, the employee is paid for 8 hours of work at 155% of their standard rate.


When an employee agrees to supervise clients on overnight excursions, the following rules apply:

Monday to Friday Excursions

  • Pay for work hours - employees receive their ordinary rate of pay for hours worked between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, with a maximum of 10 hours daily. Hours outside this span are paid at overtime rates.
  • Sleepover allowance - employees receive a sleepover allowance for each overnight stay (refer to the Allowances section).

For weekend excursions, if an overnight excursion includes a Saturday and/or Sunday, the total days worked within the two-week cycle (including those weekend days) cannot exceed 10 days.

Rostered days off and rest breaks

Full-time and part-time employees (excluding casuals) must receive at least two full days off each week, four full days every fortnight, or eight full days within a 28-day cycle. If possible, these days off should be consecutive.

Employees are entitled to a minimum 10-hour break between shifts or work periods. However, this break can be reduced to 8 hours by mutual agreement if a shift begins or ends directly adjacent to a sleepover shift.

Rosters and client cancellations

Rosters should be provided to employees at least two weeks in advance of the roster period. Changes to the roster are permitted with seven days' notice, however, changes to a part-time employee's hours require written agreement (see clause 10.3(e)). Exceptions to the notice period exist to ensure continuity of service, such as in cases of unexpected employee absence due to illness or emergencies. Casual employees do not require a formal roster.

Specific rules apply to roster changes in home care and disability services when a client cancels. If a client cancels with seven or more days' notice, standard roster change rules apply, meaning full-time and part-time employees require seven days' notice, and changes to part-time hours require written agreement.

If a client cancels with less than seven days' notice, the employer has the option to assign the employee other reasonable work during the canceled shift. Should the employer choose to cancel the shift outright, and 12 or more hours' notice is provided, the employer can direct the employee to perform "make-up time" later. The employee receives the higher pay rate between the canceled shift and the make-up shift, with payment occurring when the make-up shift is worked. If less than 12 hours' notice is given for a canceled shift, the employee must be paid for the canceled hours.

The 7-day roster change notice requirement is waived when employees mutually agree to swap shifts with employer approval, in cases of unexpected employee absence due to illness or emergency, or if a part-time employee agrees to work additional hours.

Broken shifts

Broken shifts, involving one or more breaks (excluding meal breaks), are only permissible for social and community services employees performing disability services work and for home care employees. The maximum total span of a broken shift is 12 hours.

Employees can only be required to work a maximum of two periods within a broken shift (with one unpaid break). A maximum of three work periods (two unpaid breaks) is allowed only with the employee's specific agreement. It is a violation of the Award to schedule more than three work periods within a broken shift.

Here are some additional rules surrounding broken shifts:

  • Work exceeding the 12-hour span is paid at double time. While broken shifts must be rostered within 12 hours, emergencies or unplanned overtime might push them beyond this limit.
  • Employees must receive at least a 10-hour break between broken shifts on consecutive days.
  • Employees receive an allowance for broken shifts which is 1.7% of the standard rate for two work periods (one break), and 2.25% of the standard rate for three work periods (two breaks). Refer to clause 20.12 for current rates.
  • Clause 10.5 minimum engagement/payment rules apply to each work period within the broken shift (2 or 3 hours, depending on work type).
  • Broken shifts still attract penalty rates and shift loadings. Each period within the broken shift is considered separately when determining applicable penalties (e.g., if the broken shift is 9 am-11 am and 5:30 pm-8 pm, afternoon shift allowance applies only to the latter period).
  • For broken shifts, a different "night shift" definition applies – no night shift allowance for work beginning before 6:00 am.
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The SCHADS Award allows employees to work their regular hours outside the standard span outlined in clause 25.2(a). These employees are considered "shiftworkers" and are eligible for additional penalty rates.

From Monday to Friday, a shiftworker can work two types of shifts: an afternoon shift (ending between 8:00 pm and midnight), or a night shift (ending after midnight or starting before 6:00 am). Shiftworkers may also work on public holidays, with shifts defined as any time between midnight the night before the holiday and midnight on the holiday itself.

Shiftwork penalties vary depending on the shift type. Afternoon shifts carry a 12.5% loading on the ordinary rate of pay, while night shifts have a 15% loading. Public holiday shifts receive a 150% loading for the portion of the shift occurring on the holiday. Casual shiftworkers receive these penalties in addition to their casual loading.

Shiftwork must be performed in a continuous block of hours. This block may include meal breaks and sleepovers, subject to any broken shift rules.  Full-time and part-time shiftworkers who work a minimum of eight 24-hour care shifts per year, or work more than 4 ordinary hours on at least 10 weekends throughout the year, earn an additional week of annual leave.

Annual leave loading

When taking annual leave, employees who do not work shifts receive a 17.5% annual leave loading on top of their ordinary pay rate. Shiftworkers taking annual leave are paid their base rate plus the higher of these two options:

  • 17.5% loading on their ordinary rate.
  • The sum of shift loadings and weekend penalties they would typically receive when working.


The SCHADS Award includes various allowances. This section highlights commonly used ones – refer to Clause 20 for the complete list and specific conditions.  Note: Allowance amounts are updated regularly.  Consult the Fair Work Ombudsman pay guide for current rates.

Allowance types

Laundry Allowance - If an employee's uniform isn't laundered by or at the employer's expense, they receive a laundry allowance. This also applies if personal clothing is soiled during work duties (see clauses 20.2 and 20.3).

Overtime Meal Allowance - When working overtime exceeding certain thresholds, employees are entitled to either a provided meal or a meal allowance. Requirements include:

  1. working more than one hour past usual finishing time (or for shiftworkers, when overtime on a shift exceeds one hour), and
  2. receiving another meal allowance if overtime exceeds four hours. (See clause 20.5 for details).

On-Call Allowance - Employees required by the employer to be on-call (available for recall to the workplace or remote work) receive this allowance. (See clause 20.11 for details).

Sleepover Allowance - Employees rostered for a "sleepover" shift are entitled to this allowance. (See clause 25.7).

Uniform Allowance - As an alternative to uniform provision, the employer may agree with the employee to pay a uniform allowance. (See clause 20.2).

Vehicle Allowance - Payable if the employee is required to use their own vehicle for work duties. (See clause 20.7).

First Aid Allowance - A weekly first aid allowance must be paid to a full-time employee when:

  1. they hold a current first aid certificate,
  2. they're required to perform first aid at their workplace (excluding home care employees), or
  3. if a home care employee is responsible for providing first aid to other employees during a given week.

Part-time and casual employees receive this allowance pro-rata based on the standard 38-hour full-time work week. (See clause 20.6 for details).

Higher duties allowances

Home care employees temporarily performing higher-level duties are paid the higher rate only for the actual time spent in that role if the duration is two hours or less. However, if they work in the higher-duty role for more than two hours, they receive the higher rate for the entire shift or workday.

Employees outside of home care who relieve in a higher-classified position for five or more consecutive workdays are entitled to the higher rate of pay for the entirety of this relief period.

Termination of employment

Both employer and employee must provide specific notice when terminating employment. The required notice period depends on the employee's continuous service, which includes authorised unpaid leave (like parental leave) but excludes unauthorised leave or absences.

Notice periods based on length of service

Period of Continuous ServiceMinimum Notice Period
1 year or less 1 week
More than 1 year - 3 years 2 weeks
More than 3 years - 5 years 3 weeks
More than 5 years 4 weeks
Employees over 45 years old with at least 2 years of service receive an additional week of notice.

Employers can deduct up to one week's wages if an employee over 18 years old fails to provide the required notice, provided the deduction isn't unreasonable. Importantly, deductions can only come from wages owed and not from accrued leave entitlements or other over-award payments.

2023 SCHADS Award update: Minimum Wage Increase

A major change occurred in the SCHADS Award in 2023, effective from 30 June 2023. Eligible employees are entitled to a 15% minimum wage increase. This specifically targets direct care workers, a group that includes nurses and personal care workers.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) implemented this increase for two key reasons. Firstly, it acknowledges the historical undervaluation of care work, often performed by women, due to gender-based biases. Secondly, the increase aligns with the modern awards objective, ensuring fair and relevant minimum wages for workers.


What is the SCHADS Award?

The SCHADS Award (Social, Community, Home Care, and Disability Services Industry Award) is a legal document that establishes minimum wages, employment conditions, and entitlements for workers in specific social and community service roles. These include positions like home care workers, support workers, disability care workers, and crisis accommodation employees.

What types of employment does the SCHADS Award cover?

The SCHADS Award applies to full-time, part-time, and casual employment.  It's important to note that detailed rules governing each employment type differ within the Award.

How are work hours and overtime regulated under the SCHADS Award?

The SCHADS Award sets a standard work week of 38 hours. Employees generally work within a specified span of hours for day workers.  Work performed outside these spans or in excess of weekly limits attracts overtime rates, with higher rates often paid for weekends and public holidays.

Does the SCHADS Award address breaks during work?

Yes, the SCHADS Award mandates both meal breaks and tea breaks. Employees working over five hours are entitled to an unpaid meal break. Employees also receive paid 10-minute tea breaks for every four hours worked.

What are sleepover shifts, and how are they compensated?

Sleepover shifts involve an employee being required to stay overnight at a client's location.  Employees must be provided with separate sleeping quarters, access to facilities, and free board and lodging. They also receive a sleepover allowance per night.

What allowances are included in the SCHADS Award?

The SCHADS Award outlines various allowances, including laundry allowance, overtime meal allowance, on-call allowance, vehicle allowance, and first aid allowance. Eligibility and rates for these allowances are specified within the Award document and are sometimes updated.

How much notice is needed when terminating employment?

Both employees and employers must provide notice before terminating employment under the SCHADS award. The required notice period is calculated based on the employee's length of continuous service, with additional rules applying to employees over 45 years of age.

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