Spotlight on subsidies: Are you benefitting?

by 13 Dec 2011

The Federal Government provides a variety of wage subsidies to eligible employers who hire job seekers with a disability or other barriers to employment.

Wage subsidies also aim to increase the competitiveness of job seekers with disabilities or with other barriers when seeking employment in open labour market conditions. 

Each of the wage subsidy programs has its own eligibility and other criteria to enhance the likelihood of employment for the job seeker target group and, as a result, allow them to achieve sustainable employment.

Why get involved in the wage subsidiary offerings?

  • It can be used to address any additional demands an employer may perceive exist or experience in establishing an employee with disability into the workplace compared to other employees.

What are the conditions?

  • The employer must agree that the employment arrangement will continue for the period required by the relevant wage subsidy criteria. For example, under the Wage Subsidy Scheme, the employment must have a reasonable expectation of exceeding 13 weeks.

  • Employers should refer to the relevant guidelines of the specific wage subsidy being used for finer details on employer eligibility criteria.

  • Employers are required to pay all wages and meet all other usual entitlements for their employee as required by state or federal law. These include payments such as superannuation, insurance costs, occupational health and safety requirements, tax etc.

How do employers access wage subsidies?

  • Employers must make arrangements for the payment of wage subsidies directly with an Australian Government employment service provider.

  • In most instances, wage subsidies should be arranged prior to commencing the new employee. However, in some cases, you may identify that a wage subsidy is appropriate after placement. For example, this may occur where it is identified a new employee requires more support than initially anticipated. You should check the wage subsidy guidelines to determine whether negotiation of a wage subsidy after placement is appropriate.

  • Wage subsidies are paid to eligible employers, and only after receiving verification of employment and the wage payments to the employee. Payments may be made in installments during the subsidy period or at the end of the subsidy period depending on the arrangements agreed between the employer and the service provider.

  • Employers are required to maintain appropriate documentation to support the wage subsidy arrangement. The relevant documentary evidence guidelines and wage subsidy guidelines provide more information.

How much is payable?

  • This will depend on the wage subsidy program and the service provider administering the program. The appropriate subsidy amount can be determined based on the program criteria and the individual circumstances of the job seeker or worker as well as the employer’s needs.

Do all jobs for people with disabilities attract a wage subsidy?

  • Not all jobs attract a wage subsidy. It is up to the individual service provider to determine when a wage subsidy is required and the level of the wage subsidy depending on the job seeker’s and employer’s needs. Jobs that don’t attract a subsidy will depend on the particular wage subsidy program. However, some common exclusions are:
  • Jobs not under an industrial agreement, for example, piece rate work or self-employment

  • Jobs where there was a pre-existing business arrangement between the worker and the potential employee, for example, partnerships.

  • Other less common exclusion criteria may also apply. See relevant guidelines.

Training for special needs

Funding for training is available through programs targeted at disadvantaged groups or people with special needs, including:

  • Wage Assistance, an Australian Government initiative, provides a subsidy of up to $4,400 to Australian employers who give an ongoing job to an eligible Indigenous job seeker.

  • Structured Training and Employment Projects (STEP) provides funding for structured and accredited training to employers who take on Indigenous workers.

  • Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) program provides workers with English language, literacy and numeracy skills. Funding is also available for enterprise-based language and literacy training to allow workers to make a full contribution to their workplace and to access mainstream workplace training.

  • Businesses that employ people with disabilities can receive funding and subsidies under the Australian Government's Supported Wage System (SWS). The SWS allows employers to pay a wage that corresponds to a disabled person's rate of productivity with the Government making further contributions to their income.

  • Under the SWS a payment of $1000 to employers can be made to offset the cost of employing a worker with a disability. Funding of up to $5,000 is also available for essential workplace modifications or special equipment that will assist people with disabilities get jobs.

  • Employers who hire unemployed mature-age job seekers can also be eligible for wage subsidies.

*Information provided by


Latest News

Employees routinely cheating the system
Mishandling of State Government HR and payroll ‘quite extraordinary’
Speculation rife but Evans says 'no comment'

Most Discussed

Lack of opportunities for disabled ‘a national shame’
Contract work a choice, not a last resort
Company implements 'Zero email' policy


Most Read