The “Uber-isation” of the disability care sector is putting the safety of people with disability at risk and leaving workers short-changed.
A new report says the digital contractor model connecting National Disability Insurance Scheme participants to independent contractors to provide services for tasks such as cleaning and personal care “presents significant risks and is structurally unsuited to care sector work”.
“Quality disability care is not a set of discrete emotionless tasks which can be ‘gigged out’ as necessary,” the paper by think tank Per Capita says. “It requires ongoing personal relationships with workers who are appropriately valued, well trained and have some certainty over their careers.”
Per Capita’s report, “Contracting Care: the rise – and risks – of digital contractor work in the NDIS”, commissioned by disability service provider Hireup, notes digital contracting models are increasingly popular, with 5 per cent of NDIS workers saying they have worked via an online platform compared to 1 per cent five years ago. “We’re already seeing a number of Uber or Deliveroo-style operators entering the disability care market,” Per Capita executive director and report author Emma Dawson said.
She said sole trader disability support workers didn’t need to register with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, and digital platforms that had them on the books didn’t provide training, OHS or legal support, and offered no quality and safety guarantee for either worker or client.
Further, the Per Capita report finds that on average, contractors working in the care industry will end up with just $88,000 in superannuation on average compared with $526,000 for direct employees carrying out the same tasks.
“People with disability are being treated like a commodity and workers are being forced into a race to the bottom,” Ms Dawson said.
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