Your tricky questions as an independent worker explored

Two women looking at a phone together.

Running your own business as an independent support worker gives you freedom, flexibility and the ability to be your own boss. Sometimes difficult questions will arise about how to provide the best customer service for your clients. Often, there’s no right or wrong answer to these. Here, we take a look at some common questions that come up and things to think about when approaching them.

How do I respond to short shift requests?

One of the great benefits of the Mable platform for both clients and workers is the flexibility it provides. With Mable, you and your client have complete control over the services provided, the hourly rate you charge and when the services take place.

There can be lots of reasons clients might need support for a short period of time; perhaps they need transport to an appointment, some personal care first thing in the morning, or help with dinner preparation. As a support worker, short shifts may not always be convenient for you. There will often be other factors such as location, rate of pay or your current schedule which determine whether you think it’s worthwhile for you to take them on.

If you do decide it’s not going to work for you, it can be hard to know how to respond to your potential client. In all instances, it’s important to remember that the client may not understand why these requests can be difficult for you as a support worker, so always try to be empathetic and polite when responding. There may be other ways that you could still work together whilst ensuring the arrangement works for you both. Even if you cannot assist with the short shift, consider responding with helpful suggestions or a compromise – whether that’s a slightly higher rate, an additional hour or a different time slot – that could make it work.  Alternatively, you could refer a support worker buddy who may be able to assist.

Consider mentioning in your profile if you have a minimum shift duration that you would like to maintain. This will ensure that clients are aware of your preference prior to approaching you with these requests.

I want to end an agreement. What’s the best way to go about it?

The ability to end an engagement that’s not working for you is an important feature of the Mable model for both independent support workers and their clients. Whether you’ve been working with a client for some time, or you’ve just had the one shift with them, calling it quits is never easy.

If the time comes, we recommend considering your client’s specific circumstances. Are there family members you could involve in the conversation to ensure they have the support they need? As a support worker, your clients are relying on you. Remember to always try and give clients as much notice as possible so other arrangements for support can be made.

Lastly, the safety of everyone in our community is paramount. If you have any concerns about the conduct of anyone you have worked with, you can contact Mable’s customer engagement team on 1300 736 573.

I need to talk about rates. How can I do this?

When you’re just starting out with a new client, discussion about rates is likely to be fairly straightforward. For those with existing clients who want to request a rate increase, the conversation can be a little uncomfortable.

Firstly, if you’re new to Mable, or have expanded your service offering and not sure what to charge, read our advice about setting your indicative rates on Mable. There may also be certain times a discussion about rates with your clients might be worthwhile. An example is the latest NDIA price guide which recently increased the prices for the support you provide to clients who access the scheme.

Think about how you approach the conversation. A short and simple explanation about why you need to increase rates may suffice – and be prepared that your client may need to reduce their hours of support as a result.

A decision on whether to agree to a rate increase is not likely to be personal – and will not necessarily be a reflection of how much they value your work. If this happens, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you would like to continue working together.

What about all my other costs?

As an independent support worker, you are running your own business and therefore responsible for your expenses. Travel time, shift preparation time, petrol for clients in need of transportation are all costs that you will likely need to cover as part of your work.

We recommend at the commencement of a new engagement discussing everything that’s required for the job and deciding on a fair hourly rate with all this in mind. If you are already working with a client at an agreed rate, have a conversation with them about your out of pocket expenses and how these might be covered as part of your overall fees.

All independent workers on the Mable platform bring a range of experiences, qualifications and expertise to their clients – and an individual’s rate will reflect this. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your client to clarify how you came to your hourly rate so that they understand when you feel you might need to charge a little more. 

Remember – as you’re running your own business, some of your expenses may also be tax deductible. Keep a record of all your work expenses so you can claim them when it comes to tax time.

If you haven’t already, join Mable’s closed Facebook group for independent support workers to network, ask questions and chat with others using the platform.

A support worker’s guide to Mable news

A support worker’s guide to Mable news