Disabled workers to benefit after Senate votes against unfair payment scheme
25 November 2014
Chee Chee Leung
Law firm Maurice Blackburn, which is representing up to 10,000 intellectually disabled workers in a class action over unfair pay, has welcomed the Senate’s decision last night to reject a bill that would have further disadvantaged these vulnerable workers.
Under the Federal Government’s Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Bill, disabled workers who had received discriminatory wages while working at Australian Disability Enterprises would have received only half of the back pay there were entitled to.
To access the Government’s payment scheme, the bill also required workers with intellectual disability to waive their rights to purse legal action over the unfair pay.
Emeline Gaske, an associate in employment law at Maurice Blackburn, said the defeat of the bill was an important win for the workers, some who were earning less than $1 an hour.
“We welcome the Senate’s decision to reject the Abbott Government's attack on the most vulnerable workers in the country,” Ms Gaske said.
“This decision protects the rights of vulnerable workers to get fair compensation for years of discrimination, and paves the way for workers to get what they're rightfully owed through the class action.
“We look forward to getting on with the job of fighting for fair back pay for workers with intellectual disabilities.”
The class action is due to return to the Federal Court on 16 December for a directions hearing.