Bans on aged care workers working in multiple aged care facilities shows how little has been done to protect the aged care workforce and those they care for in this pandemic, Carolyn Smith, the aged care director of United Workers Union, said today.
“The Federal Government and the broader industry have ignored calls for paid pandemic leave that would protect workers and those they care for,” Ms Smith said today.
“Now we see moves to further punish large numbers of aged care workers in the industry who work across two or more sites.
“No-one is saying that efforts to restrict coronavirus shouldn’t be made as it spreads in Victorian aged care facilities.
“But the Federal Government should be paying additional compensation to some of Australia’s lowest-paid workers if they can’t do two jobs. Paid pandemic leave is also essential.
“Ad hoc restrictions on aged care workers who work two jobs shows the complete lack of robust solutions that give workers the financial comfort they need to stay away from workplaces if they fear they have contracted coronavirus.”
Ms Smith pointed to OECD research released last month showing Australia has the second highest level of part-time aged care workers and the second lowest length of tenure in aged care jobs.*
“These shameful figures point to a broken system that requires a massive overhaul,” Ms Smith said. “It’s the industry’s reliance on this part-time and casual workforce that forces workers to take jobs across multiple facilities.
“If you stop aged care workers from working two jobs, there simply will not be enough carers to look after residents in aged care facilities – with dire consequences for those in care.
“The whole system – already in crisis – will approach a breakdown if these bans are imposed widely.
“Punishing workers by stopping them having two jobs shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the structure of the industry, and there needs to be a serious package of financial and structural measures to address these issues.”