Pay aged care workers in full now, say unions

Unions, along with other stakeholders, have made submissions to the Fair Work Commission calling for its interim offer of a 15 per cent pay rise to be paid in full without delay.

Unions, along with other stakeholders, have made submissions to the Fair Work Commission calling for its interim offer of a 15 per cent pay rise to be paid in full without delay.

In the November decision on the aged care work value case, the FWC announced it was offering nurses and personal care workers a 15 per cent pay rise to be paid in two stages: 10 per cent from 1 July, and the other 5 per cent 12 months later. The proposal received federal government support.

However, the offer was criticised by stakeholders for being phased in over 18 months rather than being paid immediately in full, and only applying to direct care workers.

In its latest FWC submission dated 20 January, the Australian Workers Union echoed those criticisms, saying it did not support “the timing or the phasing in” of the pay rise while calling for the 15 per cent to be paid in full “on or after a specific date”.

The AWU noted “there was no cogent evidence put by the Commonwealth as to why phasing in the interim increase in the manner they propose is manageable, whereas awarding this increase in full without any phasing in would not be manageable.”

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation also called for the increase to “come into effect immediately” so that direct care workers receive the benefits “without further delay”.

Nurses and personal care workers should not have to wait until 1 July 2024 – nearly 20 months after the interim decision – “to receive a minimum rate increase that is plainly justified by work value reasons,” reads the ANMF submission.

The ANMF also called on the FWC to support the removal of gender-based wage discrimination by establishing and maintaining a safety net of “fair minimum wages” that ensure “equal renumeration for work of equal or comparable value” and eliminate “gender-based undervaluation of work” and address “gender pay gaps”.

In its submission, the Health Services Union joined the calls for the 15 per cent pay rise to be paid immediately. “Any delay in the implementation of the interim decision will result in direct care workers in the aged care sector continuing to receive wages which are very significantly below the true value of the work they perform,” reads the HSU submission.

Meanwhile, in a joint submission on behalf of sector peak Aged & Community Care Providers Association and employer advocacy organisation Australian Business Industrial, a call was made to expand the direct care pay increase to include head chefs and cooks, and recreational activities officers “on the basis that the increase is to be funded by the Commonwealth.”

These roles make up a very small cohort of the aged care workforce, reads the submission, “and in regard to the RAOs are firmly aligned to direct care employees in how they work directly with consumers.”

ACCPA and the ABI also seek “further clarity” regarding increased hourly rates of overtime, increased superannuation, increased pay roll tax and increased workers’ compensation contributions. “This issue looms large in the operation of the interim increases,” reads the submission.

Concerns of home care operators were also submitted. “Given the increase in pricing that will likely be necessary to cover the increase in costs to operators, clients may be more hesitant to agree to a change in the pricing in their agreement. This could mean that even with additional funding being paid into home care packages by the government, some home care operators could be required to pay the interim increases without the ability to recover costs from the increased package funding. This is a significant risk to operators considering the level of increase in wages that is going to occur.”

The ACCPA/ABI submission concludes: “The approach to funding for home care will require home care package recipients to consent to new pricing before the funding can flow to employers to fund the interim increases.”

Without an adequate workforce, we cannot meet the needs of our ageing population.”

In a statement, the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council backed the calls to extend the pay deal to apply to non-direct care workers.

Libby Lyons

ACWIC chair Libby Lyons said fair pay for aged care workers is fundamental to attracting and retaining workers to provide quality of care for older Australians.

“This is about the provision of person-centred care that meets the expectations of our community. It is not possible to provide the kind of care we want and in fact need for our parents, our partner, or ourselves, if we do not recognise, in financial terms, the value of the work that is delivered by the broad suite of these essential workers,” said Ms Lyons.

“Without an adequate workforce in all the roles that support the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of older people, we simply cannot meet the needs of our ageing population.” This includes kitchen, laundry, recreation activities and administrative staff, added Ms Lyons.

ACWIC also “wholeheartedly” supports the elimination of gender-based wage discrimination. “Improving wages in sectors that have historically undervalued women’s work will help to narrow the gender pay gap. This is especially important in aged care, where nine out of 10 employees are women,” said Ms Lyons.

“We will continue to work with government to address the critical shortage of aged care workers, and to equip the aged care workforce to deliver the care that older people, their families and carers expect.”

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Tags: ACCPA, aged care workforce industry council, anmf, Australian Business Industrial, fair work commission, featured, health services union, libby lyons,

9 thoughts on “Pay aged care workers in full now, say unions

  1. YES – we also need to recognise the contributions of non-direct care workers although I’m not sure how counsellors (in the strictest sense) don’t fit the category of ‘direct care’. Government funds a range of programs/interventions but also needs to be aware of the gendering of roles. Example counselling is still typically a female dominated profession and is currently paid in aged care at almost or under 1/3 of NDIS cost for similar service. Where’s the justice in that? I hope we can get an equivalent list of services in aged care that outlines the maximum rate for services such as counselling.

  2. I am a crt4 in aged care nursing have worked in this industry for almost 22 yrs and have seen many changes ,some good some not so good ,our work load now has trippled since nursing home have made it housing ,continuity ,so we stay in 1 wing looking after 16 residents, 2 staff and at times 3 doing personal care,cleaning,medication and many times activity . So same pay extra work and it sucks I can assure you ,my mornings is run run run,hardly get time to sit and spend valuable time with them it’s disgusting really .I try my hardest to make everyone of my residents feel special ,it’s like a big family but I don’t get putting extra work on us with little pay ???before we had cleaners,now we clean EENs for meds ,now we do meds and activity everyday even physio daily .Ow how time changes . Us nurses are not gready we are there because we care about the ageing generation and really if you didn’t love your job you definitely wouldn’t be there trust me . So please pay us respectfully .I don’t want to do retail,McDonald or grocery retail that are on a better wage ,I want to look after the gracefully aged Aussies. And if NDIS,home care and all the other cares that go to there homes and recieve pays from between $40 to even $75 an hour I don’t get what the issue is . Please respect us we will be caring for you or your family members oneday then you will really see what we do daily .
    Kind regards V

  3. Also include Allied Health worers who delivery direct services into client’s homes every day – physiotherpists – falls prevention; occupational therapists – home safety/modifications, equipment, pressure sore prevention; exercise physiotherapists – exercise programs, speech therapists – swallowing food safety and speaking, dietitians – weight management and health eating, music therapists – dementia clients.

  4. To be honest. AINs do the bulk of care. DTs don’t want to involve themselves for eg: preventing a fall. They will yell out for the one AIN on the Dementia ward to assist a resident who is likely to fall or hurt another resident even when they see how short staffed we AINs are. But we are expected to pick up the work of the DTs to some degree and all the other jobs that we did not apply for! AINs should be paid more than a cleaner, more than a DT, more than laundry and more than kitchen staff. As you are all aware AINs have picked up extra work for all these others employed staff to save the company money. Lifestyle Staff often end up being used as AINs when the company is short staffed. Now this is where the actual Job description of their employment in really shown to be not as important as they would lead you to believe! It is just looks good on paper when family visit! I think anyone in their right mind should be peeved off there! Cleaners become AINs. Kitchen staff become AINs. Laundry become AINs. Then they are thrown back into their old jobs when short staffed leaving AINs short again. Very “multiskilled”. We are like low paid 3rd world workers who are forced to to the jobs of others because they refuse to hire more kitchen, DTs ,cleaners, RNs and ENs. Everyone working in the aged care sector deserves a pay rise but if a kitchen or cleaner or even a DT worker gets the same or more than an AIN I find that disgusting and it only undermines the incredibly hard and responsible work that is expected of AINs. To attract more Nurses and particularly the real backbone of Aged Care, the AINs, I suggest they pay the same rate of pay as they do in the public sector. After all it is my tax paying for others that do less, have more staff and have strong unions and a government happy to pay them regular increases of pay every year!

  5. And there you have it…the ‘us and them’ mentality that divides the workforce and fragments our collective power.
    Competitive attitudes from the different groups that support residents are unhelpful. And how does one comparatively measure workloads? Is it the number of showers/day or liters of tea served? Or what about that RN who doesn’t shower anyone or even pour tea; how many showers does it take to equal being responsible for everyone onsite ?
    Every role is important. Without a unified voice we don’t stand a chance

  6. Say no more, so residents don’t need to eat, or have the clothes washed, or the rooms and ensuites cleaned. So no need for food service assistants, cleaners and laundry staff. ???

  7. I am a cleaner in agecare in are all so in the front line at work in the bedrooms cleaning up all the covid ,feces,gastro and sick etc and when the carers leave things we most of the time pick it up i think we should get the rise too if we did not do our job then agecare would not be able to stay open .if we dont get the rise then we should refused to go in the roses when there are infection and covid 19 and let others dill with it

  8. I just think the government is very selfish unfair and careless to us cleaners in agecare they need to come and see what work we do in all the clients bathrooms and rooms

  9. When is this nonsense going to STOP!!! I’m a Maintenance Man in Aged Care going on 7 yrs . I treat my Aged Care home as I if it was mine & the same applies to my Residents. I’m very proud to announce that I have received the Employee of the year on (3) separate occasions with no doubt a large percentage of the direct care I provide being a contributing factor (no, I don’t shower or wipe our loved ones bottoms) but I do just about everything else, the list & examples are endless. Day to day operations include making sure the Residents are safe, ensuring all the equipment utilised by care staff is not only clean but working correctly, all daily consumables are well stocked & Re ordered, preventative maintenance management, security, water temperature checks & water safety, asset management, gardens, waste, all catering & laundry equipment is in working order, indoor & outdoor furniture – curtains- air con/heaters-wheel chairs-walkers-tv’s-beds-nurse call handsets- dvd-headphones- phones-full body & stand up lifters- air mattress- bed sensors- oxygen-chemicals & cleaning equipment-windows-locks, is just a portion of what’s required by not just me but all the wonderful Maintenance persons out there in Aged Care land to enhance our loved ones twilight years. I have driven Residents to various medical appointments when there has been no family available, I spend extra time with new Residents & family to help ease the uncertainty & anxiety that I can see on their faces, taking the time to explain it’s ok to the male Residents to use a urinary bottle in bed at night time to eliminate the risk of a fall. Well I did warn you it was endless!!! If that’s not providing direct care I seriously don’t know what is & being a Maintenance person in the home one gets to see & hear everything & I can assure everyone that all the staff including (admin, cleaners, laundry, kitchen) not only play a massive but essential role in providing a safe & clean environment for the Residents it’s done with respect & love. The simple notion of excluding these beautiful hardworking underpaid employees from the proposed pay rise is nothing short of being ludicrous, insulting & insane.

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