These days, there are so many options available to qualified support and care workers in Australia. You could start your own business, gain employment through a home care provider, or find work through an online platform. There are pros and cons for each method of working in the aged care and disability support industry. So, it’s important to do thorough research when assessing your options.
Here are some points to consider.
Stability and Consistency
When looking for work, we all want a job that leaves us fulfilled and excited to get out of bed in the morning. But it can be just as important to find work that is consistent and stable. If you choose to provide support through an online platform, it is important to note that you must be self-employed. These platforms essentially connect businesses to consumers, but do not employ workers. On the upside, this means that jobs through these platforms can be highly flexible. However, work is not guaranteed.
When working for a home care provider, consumers will be found for you. A roster will be provided to you, and work will be ongoing and consistent. Through online platforms, you are expected to find individuals in need of support by yourself. Or for these individuals to find you. This system could lead to many varying situations. For instance, you may find work, but it’s a short, four-hour shift, leaving the rest of your day free, and with no income being earned. Your profile might be overlooked in the sea of other care and support workers. You may live in a remote area where care and support workers are not in high demand, or consumers are not aware of online platforms. Although some have had success working through apps and online platforms, it may not be for everyone. And the jobs found through these methods, may not be as stable. Also, consumers requesting care through online platforms reserve the right to discontinue care at any time. This means that an ongoing job could end without warning.
Most of us provide care and support because we simply love to help. But care workers also have bills to pay. Online platforms may allow care and support workers to earn a slightly higher hourly rate. Unfortunately, though, self-employed individuals often struggle to receive due payment. When working through an app or online service for providing care, you may think you’re protected financially. But you might not be.
Some online platforms—as they’re simply connecting consumers to workers, are not responsible for late or missed payments. If a payment is late or missed, you may be able to lodge a complaint after a certain period. But there’s no guarantee it will result in reimbursement. Gaining employment through a home care provider means you’re paid on time, for every hour of every shift you work (according to your contract). And you won’t have to chase up missed payments.
Also, it’s worth considering the long-term consequences of becoming self-employed. If you’re sick, you’re not entitled to any paid leave. Similarly, if you want to take a holiday, you’ll have no leave to draw from. Although you might pay yourself superannuation as a self-employed individual, it’s not organised for you.
Allocation of Time
With flexible days, working hours and flexible services, providing care through online apps and platforms can certainly be enticing. They might be a great fit for some, but not necessarily for others. The responsibilities undertaken when self-employed can be greater than some might think. You’ll need to spend time finding and liaising with consumers. You will likely be required to apply for an ABN (Australian business number) and organise your insurances, which takes time. Most online platforms also encourage a meet up between the worker and consumer before signing contracts. The time spent at this meet-up is commonly unpaid and may not result in gaining work. Also, you may be required to create your own invoices, and follow government compliance. Giving care as an employee of a home care provider can be less time-consuming. With the admin and paperwork taken care of, you can focus on providing support and care where it is needed.
Will You Have Support When You Need It?
Sometimes jobs may not go the way we want them to. It happens to everyone. Issues occur in every workplace, and it’s the support that comes after that is most important.
Although online platforms do usually have support systems, most of the responsibility falls on the independent worker. You will be required to take ownership of any issues that occur and resolve them directly. It is also your responsibility to set boundaries with those you work with. And ensure you’re not placed in dangerous situations. When working for a home care provider, most companies will have extensive employee support programs. Procedures will be set in place for when a situation occurs, and you will have support for any issues that arise. Also, home care providers will organise any relevant insurances. These may include WorkSafe insurance, liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance. When working through an online app or marketplace as someone who is self-employed, many insurances of this kind will be your responsibility.
Each care worker or support worker should pursue the type of work that best suits them. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to working as care or support worker. But all available options should be carefully considered.