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NDIS Worker Screening Check

 

Updated 30 April 2021

HR/IR considerations for registered NDIS providers

As part of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework, all registered NDIS providers are now required to comply with the NDIS Worker Screening Scheme. This impacts your employment obligations in a number of ways, and it is advisable to review your HR policies and processes accordingly, while considering the following information:

 

NDIS Worker Screening Check

 

The NDIS Worker Screening Check is an assessment of whether a person who works, or seeks to work, with people with disability poses a risk to them. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that any workers you engage to work in a ‘risk assessed role’ hold an acceptable NDIS Worker Screening Check. The definition of a worker may include employees (e.g. full time, part time, casual), contractors, consultants, volunteers, some students and even some work experience placements.

 

Worker Screening Units in each state and territory conduct the NDIS Worker Screening Check and determine whether a person is ‘cleared’ or ‘excluded’ from working in certain roles with people with disability. NDIS providers may only engage workers who have received clearance. 

 

When reviewing your HR policies, you will need to consider who should be responsible for applying for and paying for the Check, i.e. the employer or the worker. Once obtained, the NDIS Worker Screening Check belongs to the worker, meaning it is transferable between employers.

 

NDIS Worker Screening Check applications are made via the Worker Screening Units. Access to their contact information is provided at the end of this article.

 

Risk assessed roles

 

It is the employer’s responsibility to identify the risk assessed roles in your organisation. In general, these roles involve:

  • delivering specified supports or services with people with disability,

  • having more than incidental contact with people with disability, or

  • positions of leadership such as CEO or board member.

 

Workers who are not in risk assessed roles will not be required to hold NDIS Worker Screening clearance, however you are entitled to ask any worker to apply for and obtain clearance. Your criteria and position on requesting worker clearance should be considered for inclusion in your HR policies.

 

Different types of checks

 

Employers must ensure that their employment contracts and position descriptions are up-to-date and clearly state all the necessary conditions of employment. For registered NDIS providers, this now includes the requirement for their workers to hold an acceptable NDIS Worker Screening Check.

 

From 1 February 2021*, the NDIS Worker Screening Check replaces the different arrangements operating in each state or territory, setting a minimum national standard that all workers engaged in risk assessed roles must meet. However, the NDIS Worker Screening Check does not replace a Working with Children Check. Also, some states and territories may still have additional requirements in some circumstances.

 

* In the Northern Territory, the NDIS Worker Screening Check will commence no later than 1 July 2021.

 

Prior to the introduction of the NDIS Worker Screening Check, people working for NDIS-approved providers were required to have an Acceptable Check, meaning they met the screening requirements for their specific state or territory. While the transition period into the NDIS Worker Screening Check ended on 31st January 2021, individuals who have an Acceptable Check may be able to continue working in certain roles without an NDIS Worker Screening Check for a set period. The roles and the periods of time differ from state to state. This link includes the specific rules for each state or territory, plus information for registered Residential Aged Care providers delivering supports and services to NDIS participants.

 

It is important to explain to your workers the difference between a National Police Check and a NDIS Worker Screening Check. A National Police Check is typically a ‘point in time’ check that focuses on a criminal record and contains a list of disclosable court outcomes. An NDIS Worker Screening Check is far more comprehensive, taking into account additional risk factors such as past employment details, any apprehended violence orders, misconduct in the workplace, and more. Therefore, it is possible receive clearance by a National Police Check and still be denied clearance to work with NDIS participants in a risk assessed role.

 

Recruitment and reviewing employment compliance

 

To ensure compliance, the NDIS Worker Screening Check now needs to be considered in your recruitment, selection and screening processes. You will also need to monitor your workers’ clearance status on an ongoing basis.

 

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure:

  • employees do not commence work until they have NDIS Worker Screening clearance.

  • employment candidates are provided with relevant information about the NDIS Worker Screening Scheme before they start work.

  • employment candidates are provided with privacy statements which cover any information which you collect in the recruitment process, including in connection with the NDIS Worker Screening Scheme.

  • compliance with your employment obligations under any relevant privacy and data collection legislation.

 

The Victorian Safety Screening Policy suggests that applicants can be provided with this information in a number of ways including through position descriptions, and information provided to applicants during the recruitment process.

 

An acceptable NDIS Worker Screening Check is no longer valid if it has expired or been revoked. NDIS Worker Screening clearances expire every five years. However, workers with an NDIS Worker Screening clearance are subject to ongoing monitoring against police and other relevant information. This means their clearance status can be re-assessed if a Worker Screening Unit or the NDIS Commission receives new or updated information that suggests they pose a risk to people with disability. If this happens, the NDIS Worker Screening Check may be revoked before their existing clearance expires.

 

Managing exclusions

 

If a worker has received an NDIS Worker Screening exclusion as a result of their Worker Screening Check, you cannot allow that worker to undertake a risk assessed role. However, this does not give you grounds to immediately terminate the employment.

 

An exclusion status involves complicated issues that need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Employers should always follow the fair and proper processes before any decision to terminate an employee or redeploy them to alternative duties. This should include consulting with Fair Work, referring to the National Employment Standards, following the relevant Award and seeking tailored employment/legal advice. Failing to follow the proper processes, such as your procedure for workplace change, procedural fairness, and your termination procedure, puts you at risk of workplace claims e.g. adverse actions, unfair dismissal, or a general protections claim.

 

Remember also that you are entitled to ask any worker to apply for and obtain clearance, in accordance with your HR policies. In reviewing and updating your policies, it is advisable to conduct a risk assessment on employing staff who do not receive NDIS Worker Screening clearance, regardless of the nature of their role.

 

Record keeping

 

The NDIS Worker Screening Scheme also includes specific record keeping requirements, including up-to-date details of each risk assessed role and each worker in a risk assessed role. The records must be kept for seven years from the date the record was made, so that the NDIS Commission or a quality auditor can access the information at any time during that seven-year period. You will need to review your privacy and data collection policy to ensure that it covers these new record keeping requirements.

 

Communication and consultation

 

As with any workplace change process, it is important to communicate with your employees about changes to your HR protocols in relation to the NDIS Worker Screening Scheme. This should include providing clear information on how the Scheme works, how the changes may impact them, and what actions they need to take. Give your staff ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns.
 

Workplace culture

 

Worker screening is only one of a range of strategies that operate together to reduce risk of harm to people with disability. NDIS providers must also implement additional policies, procedures and practices that assist in identifying and minimising risk of harm to people with disability. These may include a code of conduct, training programs, and a regular review of the workplace culture.

 

For more information and tailored HR/IR assistance, please contact us today via NDS’s professional advisory services online form.

 

WorkPlacePLUS provides Human Resources/Industrial Relations support to NDS members and associates. You can receive a free initial half-hour phone consultation via our IR/HR advisory service. Please complete NDS’s professional advisory services online form to submit your IR/HR query. 

 

Additional Resources

 

Legislation:

 

 

NDIS Commission website:

 

 

Worker Screening Units in each state or territory:

 

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