Special Wage Permits

Section 125 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 provides that the Industrial Registrar may grant a Special Wage Permit for an employee to work for less than the set rate of pay for their job if the employee considers that they are unable to earn the minimum rate because of any impairment.


      Is the job covered by a NSW State industrial instrument?

      As from 1 January 2010, the Industrial Registrar can only grant a Special Wage Permit to State government or local government employees.

      What if the job is covered by the National Industrial Relations System?

      The New South Wales Industrial Registrar has no jurisdiction to grant a permit to an employee covered by the national industrial relations system..

      You should contact the Fair Work Commission to find out what provisions exist for special rates of pay for workers with impairments under the Federal system.


      What is the Supported Wage System "Model Clause"?

      Some State awards include a Supported Wage System clause which sets out procedures that may be followed to enable an employer and some employees with a disability to reach agreement on a reduced rate of pay without the need to obtain a permit from the Industrial Registrar.

      The Supported Wage System is administered by the The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - http://deewr.gov.au/node/1057

      Elements of the Supported Wage System include:

      • the provision of adequate training to the worker prior to their performance being assessed;
      • the establishment of the standard to be met for payment at the full award rate;
      • the assessment of the productivity of an individual in comparison to that standard;
      • the involvement of a suitable third party in the conduct or scrutiny of the wage assessment process;
      • the documentation of the process and the resulting agreement between the employee and their employer; and,
      • the periodic review of performance.
      Although a Special Wage Permit is not required if Supported Wage procedures are followed in accordance with the relevant award, a copy of the wage assessment documents and a copy of the resulting Wage Assessment Agreement need to be lodged with the Industrial Registrar.

      How do I apply for a Special Wage Permit ?

      An application may be made by post and may, with the approval of the Industrial Registrar, be made by a person on behalf of the employee.

      An approved form of application is available from the Industrial Registry, however, it is not mandatory.

      The application form can be made available in large print format or electronically, if required.

      Any special circumstances relating to the lodgement of an application may be discussed with the Industrial Registry.

      What information is required to support an application for a Special Wage Permit?

      Each application is assessed on its merits. It is not sufficient to merely state that the applicant has an "impairment" or "disability". What needs to be quantified is the extent to which the specific impairment of the worker limits their ability to perform the duties of the position at the full-award level of productivity.

      Before a permit is issued, the proposed rate of pay must be agreed between the worker and employer.

      The Industrial Registrar generally encourages the observance of a methodology similar to that used under the Supported Wage System to determine the appropriate proportion of the award wage to be paid according to the performance level of the employee.

      Guidelines for conducting a relative productivity assessment may be obtained from the Supported Wage Management Unit or from the Industrial Registry.

      How long does a Permit last?

      In those cases where a formal competency and productivity assessment has not been conducted at the time of the initial application, the permit granted by the Industrial Registrar is likely to be of short duration and subject to the condition that an assessment be conducted before any further permit is granted.

      After the results of a competency/productivity assessment have been supplied to the Industrial Registrar, a permit will usually be granted for a period of twelve months. The Industrial Registry will normally write to the parties shortly before a special wage permit is due to expire to enquire if a further permit is required. At this time, consideration should be given to any change in the level of productivity of the employee.

      Details of performance reviews should be lodged with the application for a further permit.

      Apart from the reduced rate of pay, do any other different conditions of employment differ for Special Wage Permit holders?

      Special conditions may be applied to the permit if the Industrial Registrar considers that they are warranted in the circumstances. Otherwise, permit holders are covered by all the usual provisions of the relevant industrial award or agreement.

      How is exploitation of workers prevented?
      The Industrial Registrar is required to notify the relevant industrial organisation of employees (the "union") of the grant of a Permit and its conditions.

      The Industrial Registrar may cancel a Special Wage Permit at any time.

      Is there a fee?

      There is no filing fee to make an application.

      Contact Information

      The Office of the Industrial Registrar is located at Level 10, 10-12 Smith Street, Parramatta NSW.

      The hours at which the Industrial Registry is open for business are between 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, except for weekends and public holidays.

      The direct telephone number for enquiries about Special Wage Permits is (02) 8688 3516. The number for facsimile transmissions is (02) 8688 3541 or (02) 8688 3542.

      Please contact the Industrial Registry in advance of your visit if you would like to discuss any special arrangements that might make your visit easier or if you would like to make an appointment to visit at a particular time.