Home care support provider myHomecare has been criticised by a union for offering its staff lottery tickets as a bonus for picking up extra shifts.
The lottery tickets are not provided in place of pay, with New South Wales MyHomecare Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stuart Miller confirming workers receive above award rates and overtime pay.
Staff are rewarded for picking up additional shifts, working more hours on average than their last cycle, and are also rewarded with bonus tickets if they have been with the company for more than a year.
Mr Miller defended the initiative as he sees it as an opportunity to further incentivise workers in an industry that is under pressure.
“We’ve almost had a perfect storm in aged care. We feel the same pressure the rest of the community and the economy is having with labour shortages,” Mr Miller told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“Equally, there’s been a lot of pressure from the Royal Commission [into Aged Care Quality and Safety], the community as a whole, and the reality is these people are feeling fed up and [are] leaving the sector in droves, and it’s a real problem for us.”
Mr Miller explained that the organisation is getting “creative” in the way they try to attract staff and reward staff.
“And we want to reward staff, particularly those who have stayed with us for the longest period,” he said.
Mr Miller added that staff are providing two more hours of in-home care each week with the initiative.
While there may be additional care hours for clients, Health Services Union (HSU) National Secretary Lloyd Williams believes the best outcome is to convert money spent on incentives into increased wages.
“We’ve seen employers dabble in this sort of thing a few times but this seemed to be promoting it as a new creative way to get people to work extra hours,” Mr Williams said.
“Our experience is that most employers that say they’re paying above the award are only paying a tiny amount above and they would be better to convert this investment into ongoing pay and secure jobs.”
Mr Williams raised additional concerns about the need for staff to take up extra hours to receive those incentives, especially as many aged care staff are not given enough set hours per week.
“All too often we see employers carving up work which creates insecure work,” he added.
“Aged care workers then have no alternative but to have multiple employers because of the low hours they work, which in turn restricts them from doing additional hours. It becomes a vicious cycle.
“Sometimes an aged care provider employs someone on as low as one day a week part-time and then says they’ll offer additional hours. That’s not secure work, that’s casualising part-time work.”
Mr Williams said that better pay is the long-term incentive needed to get workers to commit to one employer instead of two or three, which will help reduce burn out in workers who are trying to juggle multiple jobs.
However, short term challenges still remain and Mr Miller said this includes meeting service demand while training his workforce.
“There is fierce competition [within the industry]. We are constantly recruiting every day of the week,” Mr Miller told the ABC.
“Roughly 30% of our workforce are recent immigrants. Obviously in the past two years we’ve had none of that [skilled migration] and the reality is, even though we are turning back on the immigration pipeline, it’s a lesser number.
“They don’t come with the same training required, so we have to invest in that training. Training [can take] between nine and 12 months before they’re up to speed and delivering the quality of services that we want.”
MyHomecare Group was contacted for additional comment but could not be reached.