Dec 19, 2022

15% pay rise delayed: A major blow to aged care workers

15% pay rise delayed: A major blow to aged care

Aged care workers expecting to receive a pay rise in the new year will be forced to wait another six months after the Government revealed its interim 15% pay rise will be phased in over the next 18 months.

The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision to increase wages by 15% had already been a divisive one after it was revealed only direct care workers would benefit, including all nurses and classifications of home care workers. 

But it left out important support, hospitality and administration staff who are still integral to the delivery of care for older people.

Now, those who were hopeful of a pay rise have been handed a pre-Christmas blow after the Government’s latest FWC submission revealed it will not introduce a 10% pay rise until July 1, 2023.

The remaining 5% will then be phased in 12 months later, meaning workers will have to wait 18 months to see the full 15% benefit.

Publicly, there is widespread support for the full pay rise, with 59% of Australians praising the decision in survey results released by the Sydney Morning Herald last week. Just 22% said they disagreed with the increase.

Yet the Government has said it’s not feasible to bring in the wage boost just yet as it has to implement the proposed increase throughout its “various aged care funding mechanisms”.

Health Services Union (HSU) National President, Gerard Hayes, said it was a devastating blow to a workforce in need of support.

“The initial increase doesn’t come for more than six months and will be mostly eaten by inflation,” said Mr Hayes.

“Three quarters of aged care workers have already indicated they will quit aged care in the next six months unless there is a serious pay rise.”

Those thoughts have been echoed by Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) Chair, Libby Lyons, who said that while she acknowledges the complexities involved in implementing a sector wide wage increase, many staff will leave before they can experience the benefits.

“Aligning the pay rise with the start of the financial year and planned reforms will reduce the potential administrative burden on providers and employers, which is a significant concern in a sector that is undergoing major transformation,” said Ms Lyons.

“At the same time, we acknowledge that this is a bitter blow for affected workers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in these challenging times, with ever-increasing costs of living due to high inflation and interest rates.

“Staged improvements to wages will assist with the retention and attraction of direct care workers, but I think that 18 months will be too long for some workers to wait, and we may well see more workers exit the sector in the meantime.”

HSU, which has been pushing for a full 25% wage increase since it launched the ‘Work Value’ case in 2020 with the FWC, said this delay could further erode worker trust.

“The stage three tax cuts deliver billions in tax cuts to people who don’t need them, and the Government thinks that’s a promise worth keeping,” said Mr Hayes.

“Yet when a workforce of insecurely employed, underpaid women win a decent pay rise, it’s fine to breach their trust with delay tactics.

“Aged care workers will be furious with this plan and I fear it will sever the last threads of goodwill.”

More workers need to benefit

As a number of workers missed out on being named in the initial pay rise boost, there are continuing calls for all aged care staff to be included.

Ms Lyons said the ongoing lack of clarity regarding pay and benefits for essential care workers, including lifestyle workers and food and hospitality staff, is concerning and they should be addressed by the FWC.

“Lifestyle workers and food services staff, including head chefs, should have a 15% interim increase applied to their pay rates at the same time as direct aged care workers, and encourage the Government to address this quickly,” said Ms Lyons.

This has also been addressed by the aged care industry stakeholders who met with the Government last week and handed down a joint statement regarding the current Work Value Case.

The Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and HSU were among 11 stakeholders that signed off on the joint statement which included calls for head chefs and head cooks to be included in the wage increase.

ACCPA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tom Symondson, said the FWC must address the needs of all aged care workers when it next sits to deliberate future wage growth.

“We are concerned that the pay rise is to be split into two parts and that workers will have to wait until July 1, 2023, before the first increase and a year later to get the second,” said Mr Symondson.

“We are experiencing a workforce crisis now and we need to be able to pass on pay rises to our staff as soon as possible to recognise their incredible contribution and to give them the confidence to remain in our sector.

“We expect to see further stages of the FWC work value case expected early next year to address the work of kitchen, laundry, recreation activities and administrative staff who were not included in the initial decision to award a 15% pay increase.”

The joint submission also addressed the need to introduce the new pay rates as soon as possible with aged care peaks also urging for Government funding to be delivered directly to them to ensure staff can be paid appropriately from July 2023. 

Instead, there is confusion towards the Government’s decision to phase in the increase over 18 months.

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) Aged Care Director, Jason Kara, said it was not the news aged care workers want to hear before Christmas.

“Both the Royal Commission and the FWC have accepted aged care workers are underpaid and that this is a key reason we are experiencing a crisis in recruiting and retaining staff,” said Mr Kara.

“The Government recently welcomed the Fair Work Commission’s interim pay decision as desperately needed and thoroughly deserved but now it has been delayed, we want to know why?

“This is a really bitter pill for aged care workers to swallow right before Christmas and is a real disappointment for our members and their hard-working staff.”

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  1. The headline is more important I suppose! Giving everyone the impression we have the money now! Just more talk the talk and great headline news to make the Albanese Gov look great. I had a male dementia resident threatening myself and another resident recently and as I work alone it is a frightening scenario when this sort of thing happens.i was trying to protect the female resident and myself I managed to press the emergency button in the corridor and not one person came to my calls. it was all over by the time the RN casually walked in.I actually turned the emergency buzzer off after 10mins and when I phoned the RN there was no answer. Yep she casually walked in looked at me weirdly and said she will put in an incident report.I was so angry! So over this job but since I am getting older I cannot see myself leaving only cutting my shifts to have some sort of life outside of this madhouse leaving me with less money. I feel burned out. Dementia is incredibly unpredictable and with more males in both Dementia wards with all varying types of this disease it has become even more challenging. We don’t have emergency buzzers to press that can be attached to our uniforms so if you are not near an emergency button you basically have to leave a possible dangerous situation to get to one. We have no security staff on night shift either and when a resident (always male) is threatening staff they can’t even get an ambulance to come as they themselves are already stretched.
    Delaying this pay rise is a disgrace and tells us all that the government really don’t care. By the time anything gets into our pay pockets staff would have left and inflation would be just get out of control. Delaying hiring more staff for the minutes spent with residents until October 23 is just another kick to us all.

  2. This is not acceptable.
    The sector is in crisis and it seems the government does not care about elderly people, at all.
    We can’t get staff as it is, we’re hemorrhaging the staff we do have to the public health system and NDIS.
    We were counting on this pay rise only to be told 1. it doesn’t include several departments, 2. you won’t get it if you’re covered by an EBA which already pays more, and now 3. it’s to be “phased in” over 18 months.
    So much for valuing the work of mostly women :eyeroll:
    Yet again we’re let down by a government – we thought you’d be different Labor! And thus the older generation will suffer because more staff will likely leave the sector.
    This is not sustainable.

  3. I’ve worked in the aged care industry since 2003 and started then with an hourly pay rate of $21, go figure, how we are still getting paid very similar wages and at some facilities only getting $19 an hour.
    People that work in the disability sector are until recently have had no training but come off the streets to work and get much higher hourly rates.
    I am now training aged care nurses as a TAE and still work as an agency nurse 2 days a week, we are so short staffed and the majority of students coming through training are wanting to work in the disability sector because it pays more.
    What a screwed up system. Its not altogether about the pay, it’s also about some of the carers coming through. Because it’s an industry that really doesn’t need alot of training to be done, we get alot of people coming through that just need to get jobs because they have been told by centrelink, we have alot of multicultural staff as well who can easily get into the system and this is no respect to either group but its a course that’s rushed through, not alot of support occurs from management in facilities and I guess ‘if you feed people peanuts you’re going to get monkeys working for you’

  4. My husband was at the Oakden Mental Health for Older Persons facility for a year until it was closed and sparked the Royal Commission into aged care. Since then he has been in a mainstream aged care facility which over the years has grown more and more to resemble the Oakden experience. What was it all for?
    This revelation is shocking. I had hope the labor government would revitalise the age care sector but it is becoming clear their efforts are less genuine than I expected. Aged care staff work hard and ask no more than a fair days wage for a fair days work. Come on labor you can do better

  5. With the Royal Commissions report, the aged care reform, increasing expectation, workforce shortages, not a positive article about aged care homes and workers and pathetic wages who would stay in the industry. In 2022 women who care for the aged are still undervalued and discriminated against
    Those in power we are not doormats. You all say you want older people cared for (5 Stars) but you want it done for nothing

  6. Where you have non or profit aged care homes making $16 million profit in a year, giving bonuses to management I believe there is money already there to increase the actual floor staff wage increases. All aged care are too top heavy in staff, too many chiefs and side kicks before the care even starts to kick in.

  7. Im a current DHS aged care/ disability support worker. Under the same government department i worked in the comunity for a year as a disability support worker then worked as a disability support worker for the same department for DHS disability aged care. Now i work in the community looking after people with disabilities, the same job the same roll looking after people with high care needs, paid under the same department the same wage, i can still pick up shifts at our disability age care if i wish as we are the same department. My question is we are the same workers so how is it Disability workers have not really been mentioned as recieving the 15%? All my co workers that do the exact same role as myself that are posted in our aged care disability facillity have always been paid the same as our support workers in the community as we come and go when picking up shifts at age care or vice versa its the same role. If anything there is more responsibility in the community looking after people in 70s and 80s needing the same high care and with complex needs but without an RN on hand? How is this fair.?

  8. What a absolute joke The Politicians can give themselves a pay rise without any questions asked yet Aged Care Workers have to go to a Royal Commission which goes for over 2 years to be told we only get a part of what we should be getting and have to wait 18 months to get it watch how many Aged Cate Workers will leave and tell the Politicians to come in on a Sunday morning at 6 am to do cares Would love to see how many would turn up for$25.35 an hour What a joke time to look for other higher paying work like Bunnings or Coles

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