Employing NDIS support workers when self-managing NDIS funds
When you employ support workers directly, you’re responsible for their employment conditions including:
- leave entitlements
- workplace health and safety.
If you don’t want to employ support workers directly, you could think about using an agency, an online support worker platform or another service provider. These options give you choice about whom you employ without the responsibility of employing staff directly.
What you can employ NDIS support workers to do
You might employ your own NDIS support worker to help your child do things like:
- shower and get dressed each day
- go to community activities like swimming lessons
- walk to school
- practise activities from therapy sessions.
You’ll need to make sure that the support provided by your child’s support worker is reasonable and necessary, affordable and designed to help your child reach their NDIS goals.
Employing your own NDIS support workers is one way to give yourself and your family greater choice and control over how your NDIS supports work.
What to look for in NDIS support workers for children
To find support workers who are the best fit for your child, you can start by thinking about the skills, experience, interests and other qualities someone needs to do the job or role. For example:
- If you need someone to help your child shower and get dressed each day, you might look for someone with skills and experience in this area.
- If you need someone to take your child to swimming lessons, you might look for someone with a drivers licence.
- If you need someone to support the development of your autistic child’s communication skills, you might look for a speech therapy student.
- If your child loves music, you might look for a worker who plays an instrument.
How to find NDIS support workers
When you know what kind of person you’re looking for, it can help you work out how and where to find them. Here are things you could try:
- Recommendations from people you know – for example, you could ask friends, family, other parents or your child’s early childhood partner, local area coordinator or NDIA planner.
- Advertisements on university employment sites – for example, you could look at universities or TAFEs that offer courses in disability support or other allied health areas.
- Local advertisements – for example, you could put advertisements in your local supermarket or library.
- Posts on Facebook groups that link support workers with NDIS participants – remember to check your privacy settings so people can’t see personal information about you or your child.
- Recruitment from culturally specific groups – for example, you might want a support worker who speaks your home language or who’s part of the LGBTQ+ community.
When you’re advertising, give only the minimum information needed to describe the position and allow the applicant to contact you. Don’t provide your child’s name, your address or any other personal information.
There can be a lot of administration involved in employing your own support workers. You can ask your child’s early childhood partner, local area coordinator or NDIA planner for additional support to develop the skills you need to be an employer. You might also be able to use money from your child’s plan to hire a payroll company or bookkeeper to help you with some of the legal requirements, like payroll, superannuation, tax, leave benefits, insurance and workplace safety requirements.
Background checks on NDIS support workers
When you’re employing your own NDIS support workers, you’re responsible for checks like the following:
- A working with children (WWC) check – this is mandatory for certain occupations and must be held by your employee if required by law in your state or territory.
- A police check completed in the last month – some states will allow you to request a police check from a local police station for a fee.
- An NDIS Worker Screening Check – you can request access to the NDIS Worker Screening Database to see whether a potential employee has been cleared for or excluded from working in certain roles with people with disability. You can ask your potential employee to apply for this check, if they haven’t already done so.
- A qualification check – you can check whether potential employees have the qualifications needed for their profession, like an Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) registration.
- A referee check – this means contacting previous employers of potential employees and asking about what your potential employee did and how they worked. For example, you might ask about trustworthiness, reliability or specific skills.
Job interviews with NDIS support workers
Interviews with potential support workers help you find out more about:
- whether the worker has the personal attributes, skills and qualifications for the role
- how the worker might ‘fit’ with your family
- whether you’d feel comfortable with them being in your home and with your child.
Interviews also give potential support workers the chance to ask questions about the role.
You could start by interviewing 2-3 people. You can interview others if these people aren’t suitable.
Before you meet with potential support workers, it’s a good idea to think about how you’ll describe the role you want them to do.
It’s also good to prepare some questions to guide your conversation. Here are things you could ask about:
- Experience – for example, what similar roles have they done?
- Approach to particular situations – for example, how would they handle challenging behaviour while they were out with your child?
- Feelings about the role – for example, what led them to apply for it, and why do they feel it would suit them?
Somewhere public like a café is a good place to do interviews.
Letters of engagement and job descriptions for NDIS support workers
When you’ve made an offer of employment, a letter of engagement will help you and the support worker avoid or resolve future misunderstandings.
This letter should cover pay and conditions – for example:
- salary and superannuation
- hours of work
- periods of notice for leave and employment termination
- feedback and performance reviews
- sick leave, carer’s leave and annual leave
- reimbursement of expenses.
It’s a good idea to include a list of duties as part of the letter of engagement. This list could form your employee’s job description.
You can also include the following in your letter of engagement:
- Expectations about behaviour – you could use the NDIS Code of Conduct as a guide.
- Confidentiality requirements – for example, you might not want your employee to take photos or post about your family on social media.
- Communication – for example, you might want the support worker to use a book or app to let you know about your child’s progress or things that happen when you’re not around.
- Responsibility for expenses – for example, you might specify your budget for things like transport, meals or activities if the support worker takes your child out.
Once you and your employee have agreed on the details, you should both sign the agreement and store your copy safely with your employment records.
You can find useful resources for employing your own staff in the CYDA guide to employing your own staff. Developed specifically for people who are self-managing NDIS funds, the guide includes templates for advertisements, job descriptions and letters of engagement, super and tax documentation, and more.
Payment for NDIS support workers
The rate of pay for NDIS support workers depends on the:
- tasks you want your support worker to do
- qualifications and experience of the support worker
- employment status of the support worker – full-time employees, part-time employees and casual employees are paid differently
- time of day the support worker works – evenings, weekends and public holidays can attract higher fees.
The NDIS pricing arrangements page gives you a guide to NDIS rates of pay for various tasks and roles. If you’re self-managing your child’s plan, you can negotiate pay above or below these rates before your support worker starts working for you, as long as you pay at least the minimum award wage for the role.
Depending on your child’s NDIS support budgets, you might decide to pay your child’s support worker a higher rate. Here are some reasons for doing this:
- The support worker has specific skills or attributes that might be difficult to find in others – for example, if you want a gender-affirming support worker fluent in Auslan, you might choose to pay them a higher rate.
- You live in a rural or remote area – for example, some support workers might charge higher rates if they have to travel.
- You want to encourage the support worker to stay in the job longer – for example, so your child can establish a good relationship with them.
You might need to withhold tax from payments you make to your support worker. You can use the Australian Taxation Office Tax withheld calculators to find out how much. You’ll also need to work out whether you need to pay superannuation for your employee.