Information regarding COVID-19
“We recognise that these are uncertain times and we are reaching out to address some thoughts you may be having around how Partners and Support Workers engage during this period.”
Who is at risk?
Click here to see the government’s advice on who is most at risk.
There are two distinct groups of people we must be aware of: those who are most at risk of coming in contact with the virus and those who are most at risk of developing a serious infection.
The list of people at risk of coming in contact with the virus is likely to grow significantly. But as it currently stands, people most at risk of coming in contact with the virus are:
- People who have been overseas
- People who have been in contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19
- People in detention facilities
- People in group residential facilities
- People with compromised immune systems
- Elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (due to higher rates of chronic illness)
- People with chronic medical conditions
- People in group residential settings
- Very young children and babies*
*Though the link between young children and COVID-19 is not well understood.
CAN I CONTINUE TO EMPLOY MY SUPPORT WORKERS DURING THIS TIME?
In our circumstances, this is a Partner’s case by case decision depending on whether it is safe for your Support Worker to continue providing care (you can utilise the Australian Government information above as your guide).
Support Workers undertake a wide variety of duties in many different settings and knowledge of the virus and its impact is changing rapidly therefore only general information can be provided.
CSA encourages both Partners and their Support Workers to stay in close contact with each other, during this period and prior to every proposed shift, to assess whether it is safe to work, taking into consideration your particular circumstances and the latest official government advice.
As a general rule, Government guidance indicates that it will be safe to continue a shift where the Partner, the Support Worker and any others that may need to be present in the work environment are healthy and do not present with Coronavirus symptoms and where recommended safety precautions are adhered to.
The following links also provide the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and, like us, we urge you to follow them and visit them regularly as the situation continues to change and evolve:
All of this information is correct at the time of writing, but the nature of a public pandemic is that it is a fast-changing environment. We strongly recommend following those links for the most up to date information.
Getting in touch with us
Just like the rest of the world, we have had to make BIG changes very quickly in the way we work, and our capacity for handling phone enquiries, and processing documentation have been impacted by this crisis.
To ensure that we are still able to help Partners and Support Workers, we are currently working hard to remedy this over the weekend and in the coming days. In the meantime, also feel free to send your queries through via email and we will come back to you as soon as we can. We appreciate your patience at this time.
We understand the landscape is continually shifting as new information about COVID-19 continually comes to light, and we are most certainly all navigating the challenges of this pandemic together.
Stay safe, stay well.
Proof of essential work
We advise given the restrictions that are currently in place across all states should Support Workers be questioned by authorities as to where they are travelling to and from and for what purpose – that you produce a copy of your payslip.
Payslips are emailed to all Support Workers nominated email addresses, on a fortnightly basis. Should you need a copy of yours sent to you, do not hesitate to contact us.
Note the states have released the following information in terms of what is classified as “essential work” –
JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS UPDATE – 9TH APRIL 2020
On 8 April, the Federal Government passed laws in relation to the JobKeeper payments. In summary, the Job Keeper payment is a wage subsidy paid to eligible employers worth $1,500 per fortnight for each of their eligible workers. Please see the government fact sheets for more information – Australian Government – JobKeeper Payments
CSA has sought legal advice regarding the application of this payment to Partners and their Support Workers. We have also sought advice regarding whether CSA can play a role in applying for and distributing the payment on behalf of Partners and their Support Workers.
The advice CSA has received is that Partners will not meet the eligibility criteria for the payment.
As this is a rapidly evolving pandemic, if we receive advice in future that Partners become eligible for the payment, CSA will update Partners and endeavour to play a role in administering the payment for Support Workers.
IF I CANNOT ACCESS JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS, WHAT GOVERNMENT FUNDING CAN I POTENTIALLY ACCESS?
Support workers are likely to be eligible for the new JobSeeker payment however this will depend entirely on the individual circumstances of each worker. The JobSeeker Payment has the same basic qualification, pay ability and means testing rules as Newstart Allowance. For more information about JobSeeker, please go to – Australian Government – JobSeeker Payments
Alternatively, Support Workers may wish to review recently released information from the Federal Government around early access to Superannuation during COVID-19. For all the information in relation to this, including the criteria you must satisfy to be eligible visit – Australian Government – Superannuation COVID-19
CSA are NOT applying the – NDIS 10% COVID-19 loading
Our Partners recently received communication from us in relation to the short term 10% COVID-19 loading that the NDIS has implemented to financially support providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have further investigated this initiative; spoken to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and importantly have spoken with our Partners, about their concerns regarding how this will impact their supports.
From these invaluable conversations, we have determined the following:
- The NDIA will not be increasing your plan funding to balance the impact of the 10% loading
- This will lead to reduced rostered hours and a reduction of care for you to fund the loading
- The NDIA have advised us that a plan will only be extended when funds run out
OUR KEY CONCERN FOR OUR PARTNERS:
- They may not receive a favourable and considered review from the NDIA which may leave them with an unsatisfactory plan which could cause enormous stress and a lack of funding for the supports that they require
- We exist to support our Partners and to ensure that you all experience an uninterrupted continuation of service, minus any stress especially during these extraordinary times. As a consequence, we have decided to keep the needs and key concerns of our Partners at the forefront during this pandemic and NOT to proceed with this initiative
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR PARTNERS?
They can continue to roster their Support Workers as they require, as per usual without impact on the funding within their current plan. We look forward to continuing to support our Partners through these uncertain times, and beyond!
Should Partners wish to discuss this further with our Payroll team, please contact us at:
Telephone: 1300 729 839
Updated: August 4th, 2020
Important points about Carer Solutions Australia — key terms and responsibilities
What is a Partner?
Clients of Carer Solutions Australia (CSA) are referred to as Partners. The Partner is someone living with a disability who wishes to engage a support worker to provide them with the care and support they need. Once the Partner has their funding in place—either from the NDIS, private or other sources—they select their Support Worker and approach CSA to manage the administrative side of the arrangement.
What does CSA do?
We support Partners to directly employ the Support Workers they need. We provide a number of initial and ongoing services. Including a fortnightly payroll administration service to ensure our Partners are meeting their obligations as an employer. However, we are not the legal employer of a Partner’s Support Worker(s).
What doesn’t CSA do?
We don’t find or employ Support Worker(s) for our Partners. Partners, or their family, are required to find the Support Worker(s) they need. We also don’t determine what the working relationship looks like. This for Partners and Support Workers to define together.
If I am a Support Worker, who do I work for?
You are employed, and therefore work for, the individual or family seeking support (our Partners). We simply facilitate the payment of your wages; make sure the correct amount of PAYG Withholding tax is withheld and sent to the ATO; that your superannuation is sent to your nominated super fund and; work with our Partners on insurances.
Temporary Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) COVID-19 Regulations
Partners, the new regulations below have come into effect and they apply to you. If you become aware that your support worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please notify WorkSafe immediately on 13 23 60
In this state of emergency and pandemic situation, timely notification of potential workplace transmission of COVID‑19 is critical for efficient and effective management of related health and safety risks, and the prompt investigation of potential breaches of employer duties.
The OHS COVID-19 Regulations extend the operation of Part 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) to require duty holders to notify WorkSafe if:
An employer becomes aware that an employee or independent contractor engaged by the employer, and any employees of the independent contractor, has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and has attended the workplace within the infectious period (being 14 days prior to receiving the confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and until clearance from isolation has been received)
The OHS COVID-19 Regulations are temporary in nature and will expire 12 months after their making. WorkSafe will review the OHS COVID-19 Regulations during the 12-month period of operation.
Click here for further information on the WorkSafe website.
Permits for essential workers in Victoria
The Victorian government has made some important announcements today regarding what kinds of workers can still work and what permits they need to comply with new Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria.
Below you will find:
- Answers to important questions you may have
- A button to download a pre-filled, editable permit for each of your support worker/s.
- A link to COVID Safe Plan resources (if required)
Is disability support work permitted?
Yes. Disability support work is permitted because it is classed as “community-based service which is required to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people”.
Do my support worker/s need permits?
Yes. Before 11:59pm tonight (5th August, 2020) you will need to issue all your support worker/s a permit to ensure that they are still able to travel to your home and deliver the support you need for the next 6 weeks.
How do I get the permit to my support worker/s?
You can email or text a copy of the worker permit to your support worker. Your support worker may also travel to work without a worker permit once to get their first permit. Electronic signatures are allowed, and they can show a copy of the permit on their phone.
How do I find and fill-out the permit?
To make this as simple and easy as possible we have created a pre-filled, editable permit as both a Word document and a PDF. You can download the Word document here and the PDF here. All you need to do is add in your details, your support worker’s details, signatures and the specific days and times your support worker will be working over the next 6 weeks.
Once you’ve downloaded the document, follow these steps:
- Open the document
- Fill out and add text to this document. To do this, hover your mouse over an empty field or box until it goes purple, click it, and then enter the relevant details
- Under Employer Details, enter your name and address in the fields that have “vulnerable person…” in them
- Under Employee Details, enter your support worker’s name, address and date of birth in the blank fields
- Under Signed/Signature, enter your name, today’s date and the support worker’s name and today’s date
- Under Hours of work fill in what hours your support worker will be working over the next 6 weeks
- Check that all details are correct
- Save the document
- Email or text the document to your support worker/s
Do I need a COVID Safe Plan?
It depends. The government has mentioned that if you do not have more than 5 employees (support workers) then you will not need a COVIDSafe Plan. However, if you do have more than 5 support workers then please go to the Business Victoria website to learn more about what a COVIDSafe Plan is and to download a COVIDSafe Plan Template.
JobKeeper payments for Support Workers
On 8 April, the Federal Government passed laws in relation to the JobKeeper payments and we advised our Partners and their Support Workers of our position at this time.
Lockdown 2.0 has prompted us to revisit this, and the advice remains as follows:
The Job Keeper payment is a wage subsidy paid to eligible employers worth $1,500 per fortnight for each of their eligible workers. Click this link to see the government fact sheets for more information.
We’ve has sought legal advice regarding the application of this payment to Partners and their Support Workers. We also sought advice regarding whether CSA can play a role in applying for and distributing the payment on behalf of Partners and their Support Workers. Unfortunately, the advice we’ve has received is that Partners will not meet the eligibility criteria for the payment.
Government funding for Support Workers
Support workers are likely to be eligible for the JobSeeker payment however this will depend entirely on the individual circumstances of each worker. The JobSeeker Payment has the same basic qualification, pay ability and means testing rules as Newstart Allowance. For more information on this, click this link.
Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The Victorian government has made it mandatory for all Victorians to wear face masks or face coverings including disability workers.
Given this, the NDIS has made a temporary change to funding arrangements so Partners can now recover their costs of purchasing PPE. Click this link to learn more.
NDIS support available in Victoria
The NDIA are encouraging participants that live in Victoria to contact the National Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and select option 5 if their situation has changed due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The NDIS has introduced a range of measures to ensure participants can continue to get the support they need including:
- NDIS plans to be extended by up to 24 months, ensuring continuity of support
- Face-to-face planning shifted to telephone meetings where possible and so on
Click this link to learn more
Contacting us during these times
I want to acknowledge that this is an incredibly stressful period for all of us. Particularly those in the disability and support worker communities. This is a time for us to come together and support one another.
Know that we are here to support you, but we also ask that if you do reach out to us please respect the efforts and experiences of the individuals you are in contact with. We don’t accept any abuse, abusive language, behaviour, threats, intimidation, racial abuse or derogatory remarks from either Partners and or their Support Workers/s.
As more is sure to unfold, we have compiled a series of resources for you:
NDIS continual updates on COVID-19
Australian Government COVID-19 updates
State Government of VIC COVID-19 updates
State Government of TAS COVID-19 updates
State Government of WA COVID-19 updates
State Government of NSW COVID-19 updates
Seeking support and guidance during these times
The wonderful humans at Lifeline are there to support us all through this pandemic so if you are feeling overwhelmed, having difficulty coping or are feeling unsafe their crisis support team can be contacted by phone or text 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Click this link to visit their website or call 13 11 14