The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has launched a work value application with the Fair Work Commission to lift the sector’s nursing and care worker wages by 25 per cent.
Under the proposal the hourly rate for level one registered nurses at the top of the pay scale would jump from $30.23 to $37.80 while an enrolled nurses at the top of the scale would rise from $24.73 to $30.93 and
It also means that the starting weekly wage for assistants in nursing and personal care assistants would increase from $877 to $1097 per week.
The ANMF is also calling for AINs and PCWs to progress to their next pay level after six months instead of the current 12 months.
ANMF assistant federal secretary Lori-Anne Sharp said the union made the application following the Federal Government’s failure to commit to improving wages in the recent budget.
“Nurses who work in aged care, depending on what state they’re working in the country, receive 15 to 25 per cent less than their public sector counterparts,” Ms Sharp told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“The aged care royal commission report clearly recognises the need for better wages and conditions and career paths in aged care. And disappointingly, the Commonwealth Government haven’t given that strong commitment in their recent release of the budget. There is nothing tied to improving wages and conditions,” Ms Sharp said.
The application follows the Health Services Union’s work value application to the FWC in November to lift the wages of personal care workers, activities officers and catering, cleaning and administration staff in aged care by 25 per cent.
Current award wages do not reflect the value of the work involved in aged care, Ms Sharp.
“We’ve seen the evidence from the royal commission’s report that there’s been increasing acuity of residents going into aged care,” she said.
“This has all come at a time when we’re seeing complexity in the regulatory environment, changes to technology and care delivery around documentation requirements and not to mention how everything’s been affected by COVID particularly in the aged care sector,” Ms Sharp said.
She said she hoped the government recognised the aged care workforce was undervalued.
“That’ll be key to recruiting and retaining staff into the future in a sector that we know is going to need a big injection of workers,” Ms Sharp said.
Opposition supports call for increased pay
Shadow Minister for Aged Care Services and Senior Australians Clare O’Neil said Labor supported the union’s call for increased pay.
“I certainly support the push for a significant increase on pay” and “a 25 per cent increase sounds like about the right number, but we need to go through a fair work process,” Ms O’Neil told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
Like Shadow Minister for Ageing Mark Butler at an industry conference last week, Ms O’Neil highlighted that the Federal Budget failed to address the needs of the aged care workforce.
“The government’s response was unacceptable for a whole range of reasons, but probably the most glaring omission is that there was nothing in there for aged care workers.
“This job is complex, it’s difficult… it’s incredibly emotionally draining, and they are some of the worst paid people in the Australian economy today,” she said.