Re­hab no longer asks for ABN

Eastern Reporter - - News - Sarah Brookes

SHALOM House says it no longer re­quires res­i­dents en­ter­ing its drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre to set them­selves up as self-em­ployed con­trac­tors when they join the pro­gram.

Res­i­dents are re­quired to work five days a week for the du­ra­tion of their stay at the Swan Val­ley re­hab cen­tre, ini­tially as vol­un­teers and then in paid em­ploy­ment. Res­i­dents reg­is­tered for an ABN as in­di­vid­ual con­trac­tors, rather than em­ploy­ees, on the books of the Shalom Works land­scap­ing and con­struc­tion busi­ness and Shalom Labour Works.

But Shalom House has con­firmed the res­i­dents, mostly on Cen­tre­link ben­e­fits when they joined, were now treated as em­ploy­ees by the two busi­nesses.

Shalom board mem­ber Stephen Wilkin­son, an ac­coun­tant, de­clined to com­ment on whether the de­ci­sion to change the sys­tem was due to a crack­down on con­tract­ing by the Aus­tralian Tax Of­fice and Fair Work Om­buds­man.

“From my records, the res­i­dents be­gan to be em­ployed by Labour Works in the quar­ter ended Sep­tem­ber 2017,” he said. “Guys work­ing for Shalom Works/Labour Works on per­ma­nent wages re­ceive su­per and leave, and guys work­ing on a ca­sual ba­sis re­ceive su­per but no leave and a higher hourly rate.”

Shalom House founder Pe­ter Lyn­don-James, who is cam­paign­ing for a WA Se­nate seat as an in­de­pen­dent on the plat­form of hon­esty, in­tegrity, trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, de­clined to ex­plain the change. How­ever, he said Shalom Labour Works made res­i­dents more at­trac­tive and em­ploy­able to busi­nesses by re­duc­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion work­load in­volved in hir­ing them.

“The rea­son we de­cided to have the res­i­dents work­ing through labour hire is to make sure they are fully in­sured, that all the ben­e­fits they are en­ti­tled to re­ceive, they do re­ceive, in­clud­ing work­ers comp’ and su­per­an­nu­a­tion,” he said.

“Our labour hire rate is $22.50, as per the Gov­ern­ment’s min­i­mum wage.

“One hun­dred per cent of that in­come goes to the in­di­vid­ual plus (an ad­di­tional) 30 per cent, which cov­ers the cost of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Shalom Labour Works, dis­tribut­ing pays, plac­ing res­i­dents, find­ing em­ploy­ers, as well as res­i­dents’ su­per­an­nu­a­tion and in­sur­ances.”

Union­sWA as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Owen Whit­tle said ar­range­ments in­volv­ing com­plex cor­po­rate struc­tures that re­quired con­tract work us­ing an ABN risked be­ing ex­ploita­tive.

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