Calls for government to foot wage increase

Aged care providers have called on the government to fund the aged care award increase.

Aged care providers have called on the government to fund the aged care award increase announced by the Fair Work Commission on Wednesday.

The FWC’s decision means that all Australian workers on award wages – including nurses and aged care workers; social, community, home care and disability workers – will receive an increase of 4.6 per cent or $40 a week, whichever is higher.

Meanwhile, workers employed on the minimum wage will receive an increase of 5.2 per cent.

Australian Ageing Agenda contacted the office of the Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler enquiring whether the award rise for aged care workers would be government funded; we’re awaiting a formal reply.

Speaking at a press event, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “The truth is that many of those people who are on the minimum wage are the heroes who saw us through the pandemic. These workers deserve more than our thanks. They deserve a pay rise.”

However, provider peak body Aged & Community Care Providers Association has voiced concerns that without government funding, it will be difficult for providers to pay workers the new award rate when so many are struggling financially.  

“A significant wage increase for our workforce is essential to attract new people and improve quality of care for older Australians,” said ACCPA interim CEO Paul Sadler. “But when two-thirds of providers are already running at a loss year-on-year, we need the wage increase to be funded by the Federal Government.”

The latest report from the University of Technology Sydney showed more than 60 per cent of residential aged care facilities operating in the red during the first half of 2021-22 with an average deficit of $339,000 or $11.34 per resident per day.

Paul Sadler

If providers are forced to stump up the cash for a pay rise, Mr Sadler warned offsets could arise in other areas of the sector – such as workforce training or investment in facilities.

“Without additional support from government, aged care providers will continue to face what the royal commission described as an impossible choice between investing in quality and finding savings to keep the doors open,” said Mr Sadler.

Although the Labor Government has committed to fully fund the aged care work value case currently before the FWC asking for a 25 per cent wage increase, a decision on that won’t be made until late this year or early 2023. Meanwhile, the award wage hike kicks in from 1 July 2022.

“If we don’t see urgent action the aged care workforce crisis is simply going to translate into other serious problems,” said Mr Sadler.

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Tags: ACCPA, anthony albanese, fair work commission, featured, hsu, paul sadler, wage increase,

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