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The Mable Facebook Community of Support Workers is always active as workers share advice on setting rates and managing expenses. On Mable, workers and clients agree on a pricing rate for support before it is delivered. Here are five top tips for making rates and expenses work for both parties.
The Big Five
|1. It’s all business||Think about your business costs and what should be factored into your hourly rate.|
|2. Travel time||Try to factor travel time into your rate and discuss this with your client.|
|3. At the movies||If you’re doing fun things with your client, make sure you have a companion card, or speak to your client about covering additional costs upfront.|
|4. Do your research||Ask your buddies what they’re charging and consider whether you’d like to request specific rates over weekends and public holidays. Read our tips on what to consider.|
|5. Tax time||Remember to keep your receipts and a record of all your expenses. Many of them will be tax-deductible.|
Expenses as an independent worker
We’ve provided some tips below to help you think about how to manage your expenses for your business.
We see a lot of conversation among independent support workers about what to do if you travel 45 minutes to and from your client’s home for a short shift. Try to factor this travel time into your rate and discuss it with your client upfront. Most clients will be understanding, especially in areas of high demand. If you’re transporting a client during a shift, you may also be able to increase your hourly rate to consider this.
It’s not standard practice to be reimbursed separately for travel costs to and from your shift. It’s up to you which jobs and shifts you accept, and as a worker on the platform you have the freedom to choose. You can decide that you’re only going to work shifts with a minimum length, especially if you’re covering a broad geographical area and want to feel the travel is worthwhile.
Outings with your client
For clients with NDIS funding, if a participant goes to a movie and is supported, the funding pays for support but not for the movie. Some venues offer free entry for a worker using a Companion Card, otherwise it’ll be easier to request that your client to pay for both of you. You can do many fun activities together where a client’s support worker can be admitted in for free, so researching your local area can be a great start.
If you’re supporting a client on a weekend away and need to be reimbursed for meals and accommodation, we encourage you to talk with your client about what they’re willing to cover for the arrangement. Ensure you’re clear on this, and if possible, ask your client to cover these expenses upfront.
Good news at tax time
Independent support workers on Mable through the Mable Tax Benefits Program have access to exclusive discounts on returns, and free webinars, resources, and events through award-winning tax firm YOUtax.
Other expenses for an independent contractor can include the cost of your mobile phone, an internet connection and mileage. These expenses would need to be considered and factored into your hourly rate (rather than charged separately to your client) – and can most likely be claimed as a tax deduction when it comes to tax time. The standard rate for mileage, in line with the SCHADS industry award, is 78c per kilometre. Make sure you always keep your receipts.
Setting your rates
When setting rates, you want to feel you’re being paid a rate rewarding your time, skills and experience, while also building client relationships. Setting rates for public holidays, weekends or overnight shifts is up to you.
If they’ve been supported by workers employed by large service providers in the past, clients are used to paying a lot more for support over weekends and public holidays, whether for aged care or disability support. However, while large providers have large overheads, you’re a sole trader running your own small business.
Be open with your clients if you charge a different rate for weekends and public holidays – you’re giving up time with family to work on a public holiday, for example – but also think about the long-term relationship with your client.
Do some research about what workers are charging in your area, for your background knowledge. You can search for other worker profiles in the Mable portal. If you have buddies, you can ask for their insights too. Check out our tips for setting rates.