The hoped for changes will require amendments to both the Nurses Award and the Aged Care Award, and comes off the back of the Health Services Union’s (HSU) submission to the FWC for a 25% pay increase for personal care workers and other aged care workers, including cleaners and admin staff, who fall under the Aged Care Award.
The federal government is coming under increasing pressure for failing to address the issue of aged care workers’ wages in the budget, and there is mounting pressure for them to intervene to support the FWC cases.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, told HelloCare, “The ANMF seeks an urgent commitment from the Government to support the union’s application and to funding the outcomes of the application.”
“The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found there was extensive evidence that the work of personal care workers and nurses in both home care and residential care is undervalued.
“These problems are compounded by minimum award wages that are too low.”
In a statement, the ANMF said aged care workers have been “undervalued” due to “gender-based assumptions about caring work.”
Gerard Hayes, Secretary of the Health Services Union, told HelloCare aged care worker wages “will be an issue” if there is a federal election held later this year, which is likely.
Because the ANMF application is closely related to that of the HSU, Butler told HelloCare she anticipates the Fair Work Commission will align these two applications given “much of the evidence will be common to both applications”.
What will the ANMF’s claim mean for Assistants in Nursing and Personal Care Workers?
Under existing awards, PCWs and AINs are paid almost identical rates.
Currently, a PCW or AIN with a Certificate III qualification receives $877 a week under the award.
The ANMF application is asking for PCWs and AINs’ pay to be increased to $1,097 a week ($28.86 an hour) – the equivalent of a 25% increase.
The application also seeks to recognise that entry-level PCWs or AINs should progress to the next pay point after six months, rather than the current 12 months, because they gain experience rapidly while working on the job.
What will the ANMF’s claim mean for ENs and RNs?
The ANMF is proposing the hourly rate for an EN at the top of the scale will increase from $24.73 an hour to $30.93.
And for an RN Level 1 pay point 8, the base rate being proposed will rise from $30.23 to $37.80 an hour.
What if you are covered by an enterprise agreement?
Should the ANMF’s case be successful, any RNs, ENs, AINs or PCWs employed under awards will be able to negotiate higher pay rates when their agreement comes up for renewal.
Though the ANMF’s application relates to awards, they are a safety net and establish minimum pay rates.
Employers’ voices must be heard
The CEO of peak body Leading Aged Services Australia, Sean Rooney, told HelloCare he agrees aged care employees should be paid appropriately and recognised for the work they do, but any increase in wages must be funded by the government.
“LASA supports an outcome for aged care workers through the Fair Work Commission, which not only assists in attracting and retaining much-needed workers in aged care, but one which better recognises the value of the work that they do,” he said.
“Given the significant impact the HSU and ANMF Work Value Cases will have on the sector, it is important that the employers’ voices are heard, and so LASA will represent its members before the Commission in this matter,” Rooney said.
“The Fair Work Commission is in the best position to determine these work value cases by taking into account all relevant information that is presented in terms of submissions and in evidence by the partie.”