What responsibilities does an NDIS Provider have when hiring contractors?
It is a common occurrence in the NDIS arena to see organisations who are engaging contractors to perform services on their behalf.
This is often seen in disability care companies or providers of household maintenance, where their staff need to be accessible over a wider geographic area in order to service NDIS participants.
Registered NDIS providers should be familiar with the NDIS Quality & Safegiards commission requirements that their employees need to be:
- suitably qualified and competent for the services and supports they provide,
- have undergone mandatory checking and screening before being employed.
An NDIS providers’ responsibilities extend to the contractors they engage to perform services on behalf of their organisation.
What is a contractor for the purposes of the NDIS?
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission includes contractors in its definition of workers, described as:
‘Under the NDIS Commission, a worker is anyone who is employed or otherwise engaged to provide NDIS supports and services to people with disability. Workers can be paid or unpaid, and can be people who are self-employed, employees, contractors, consultants, and volunteers.’
Suitability of contractors providing supports and services
Organisations and businesses will appreciate the fact that contractors do not require provision of such things as superannuation, performance management and reviews, or mandatory training. However, for compliance with the NDIS Commission providers must ensure that:
- contractors have an acceptable NDIS Worker Screening Check before commencing provision of supports or services
- understand and comply with the NDIS Code of Conduct (a fact sheet is available)
- comprehensive and current lists are kept for all contractors, including dates of pre-engagement checks performed and expiry dates
- clear and detailed records of any incidents and/or allegations of misconduct and details of the action taken in response are maintained. Records must be kept for seven years.
Are any contractors exempt from these requirements?
It is the responsibility of the provider to determine whether contractors will be undertaking:
‘a role for which the normal duties include the direct delivery of specified supports or specified services to a person with disability’
‘a role for which the normal duties are likely to require more than incidental contact with people with disability’.
Specified supports and services include:
- delivery of meals
- accommodation cleaning services
- assistance with daily living tasks such as showering and dressing
- accompanying clients to social activities and outings.
Even if a contractor’s services may not be likely to fall into these categories providers still have the right to request that they obtain screening, and this can serve as an ‘insurance policy’ if the services change for any reason or take on greater risk of client contact.
An example of a contractor not performing services or work that requires them to undertake screening might be a cleaner who cleans the offices of an NDIS provider, where there is no attendance by any clients.
As a minimum, NDIS providers should have professional indemnity and public liability insurance to protect against indemnity risks. This applies to contractors, however as a separate business entity contractors are liable for providing own insurance. Adequate insurance cover should be something that is determined before engaging a contractor.