This resource is for participants that plan manage their NDIS plan and covers hiring self-employed or independent support workers who have an Australian Business Number (ABN).
If you are self-managed, you can read our resource NDIS SELF MANAGEMENT: HOW TO HIRE YOUR OWN SUPPORT WORKER WITH AN ABN
Plan Managed participants can hire their own support workers with an ABN!
It is often misunderstood that as a plan managed participant you can use ANY provider whether they are NDIS registered or not.
The ONLY features of plan management that are different from self management are that:
- the plan manager handles the financial side of things and pay your bills AND
- you cannot pay a support worker more than the NDIS price guide hourly rate
When you plan manage your NDIS Plan, you can hire a support worker to help you achieve the goals set out in your plan.
- Engage the services of a care company who provides you with a support worker of your choice OR
- Find and then hire an independent support worker as a contractor if they have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
Why or when would you consider hiring a support worker yourself?
Hiring your own support worker might involve a little work, but it gives you flexibility with their hours and the chance to negotiate their rates and hours.
It also allows you to engage someone that you child or loved one is already familiar with.
Being plan managed means you may be able to negotiate a lower hourly rate (lower than the NDIS support catalogue) since the support worker receives the full amount when you pay them directly (a care company will take a cut) - this will help stretch your funding.
This will be especially useful when you are hiring a support worker over the weekend (or public holiday) as the support catalogue rates are very much higher over these periods.
The only restriction you have is that you cannot pay more than the NDIS support catalogue price.
It's more FLEXIBLE
You can hire someone you already know (not family members) or someone who lives nearby. The hours you need could vary and many agencies will have support worker minimum service times. When you hire someone directly it may be easier to fill the hours you need more easily.
Here are some examples of where MyCareSpace members have hired their own support workers who have their own ABN:
- Sue is able to hire her next-door neighbour, who is a good friend, to look after her son for just a couple of hours every afternoon between him finishing school and her getting home from work.
They don't need any disability certification if this is not important to you. Her son knows her neighbour well, and because they are next door, there is no travel issue for the short period she needs them. They are also flexible and she can call them up to stay on if she's running late.
- Tony hires the coaching assistant from their inclusive football club to take his son to footie matches on the weekends.
- Amy needs help in the morning to get showered and dressed. She pays her friend, who lives just down the road, to pop over for an hour in the early mornings to help her.
How to get started when hiring your own Support Worker with an ABN
Before you can hire someone, identify what your needs are. You will need to do this regardless of whether you already have someone in mind or will need to find someone.
To start, you will need to think about (and document) the following:
1. The areas of your life where you want the help of a support worker.
Make a list of where you or your loved one needs help with:
- Personal care
- Health needs (going to medical appointments etc)
- Accessing the community - getting out an about, going shopping etc
- Daily living requirements like help with cooking, cleaning etc
- Everyday tasks like sending emails.
- Assistance with therapies - practising, doing exercises etc
It may be helpful to write a daily plan of what you do (or want to do) every day and work off that.
It will take some time to get this together and you are probably going to have a few versions before you have it ready.
See this Sample Duty Statement from MyPlace (WA) which is part of their resource on engaging support workers (referenced below in its entirety). It will help you identify the duties you may need a support worker to perform.
2. What is your support budget?
This will influence how many hours of support you can pay for. Your NDIS funding for support workers falls under CORE - Assistance with Daily Life in your NDIS plan.
Look at your total funding for support workers for the year and divide it by 52. Now you have a weekly budget.
According to the NDIS Support Catalogue, the weekly hourly rate is around the $50-ish, the Saturday hourly rate around $72-ish and the Sunday hourly rate around $95.
If you can negotiate better rates than that, you are going to be able to stretch your funds.
3. What kind of support worker would you like?
It's helpful listing the type of qualities you would like in a support worker. For example punctuality, flexibility, discretion, physical strength, patience etc. Perhaps you might prefer a support worker that shares your interest or has skills you'd like to learn.
4. Get help
MyPlace WA has created a comprehensive resource on the process of finding and hiring a support worker and also documenting what you need from them beforehand. It covers:
- Planning your support needs, documenting your needs and your budget
- Duty statements (what must they do), employment adverts and application forms
- What kind of support worker you want, employee interviews and picking the right workers
- Work safety, worker management and termination
5. Finding Support Workers
You might already have someone in mind and that's the reason you are travelling down this path. Alternatively, you can put ads out on NDIS Facebook groups or other online platforms or even just use word of mouth.
Here is a Sample Application Form from MyPlace (WA) which is part of their resource on engaging support workers (referenced below in its entirety).
What do I need so that I can hire my own support worker?
1. They need an ABN
An independent contractor is a person who has an Australian Business Number (ABN) and is generally responsible for managing their own insurance, tax and superannuation.
The ATO website has a quick and easy application process.
TIP: have your tax file number handy for quicker application as the ATO can identify you from that easily.
2. They need Insurance
Make sure your support worker has appropriate insurance.
MyCareSpace has been working with insurers to provide insurances to disability support workers and there is an instant policy available at an affordable rate here.
MyCareSpace users get a discount as well as the ability to pay monthly:
If a support worker is driving your car, you will need to check whether they have to be listed as a nominated driver on your comprehensive motor vehicle insurance policy - all policies are different.
3. They should have a Police Check and Working with Children Check
As a matter, of course, you should get both of these before hiring a support worker (especially for a child) - even if you think you know them well.
Each state handles these checks independently, so you will need to Google how to get them in your state. They are usually easily and quickly obtainable.
4. They need to invoice you
Support workers who are contractors can charge per hour at a rate agreed upon by you. They will need to invoice you for their support hours.
Our Plan Manager colleagues have given us the following guidelines for what a Plan Manager would like on an invoice to ensure speedy payment.
An invoice should include:
- Provider name
- Provider ABN
- Provider invoice number – each invoice should have its own unique number
- Provider invoice date – dd/mm/yyyy format.
- Provider bank account number
- Provider BSB number
- Participant Name
- Participant NDIS Number
- Participant Address
Information about the goods or services you have provided and are seeking payment for:
- Support item number – you can use the NDIS Support Catalogue to find the number. It should correspond with the support you have delivered. You can find the latest NDIS Support Catalogue here.
- Support delivered from – use dd/mm/yyyy date format
- Support delivered to – use dd/mm/yyyy date format
- Description of the Support – e.g. Occupational Therapy
- Quantity – e.g. 1 hour of Occupational Therapy. Use decimal format. For example, 1.5 hours
- Unit price – your unit or hourly rate. This cannot be above the maximum rate for the support item number you’re claiming against. See latest NDIS Price List here
- GST (if any) – usually there is no GST for NDIS supports. Your unit price must be inclusive of GST, if you are claiming GST.
- Invoice total
5. You should have a Service Agreement
Even if you know the support worker well, a service agreement just makes sure everyone is on the same page and understands the expectations each party has and the terms of the agreement. Avoid messy arguments later by making sure you sign a service agreement. IT really does benefit both parties!
How to make sure your support worker is a contractor and not an employee
Finally, for every worker that you engage personally, you need to look at the specific working arrangement to determine whether that person is an employee or a contractor.
Why does this matter?
Because your legal, financial and tax obligations are different if your worker is an employee or a contractor.
A contractor (independent support worker) can typically:
- decide how the work will be done
- agree to the hours that make up the job
- are usually engaged for a specific task or time
- usually have their own insurance
- use their own tools and equipment
- pay their own tax and GST
- have an ABN and submits invoices
- don’t receive paid leave
Source: Dept of Fair Trading
There won’t be one thing on its own that decides whether a support worker is an employee or an independent contractor. You need to consider all of these factors making sure your support worker is an independent contractor.
The ATO website has a great tool that asks you a series of questions to determine whether you are engaging a worker as an employee or contractor for tax and superannuation purposes.