Feb 21, 2022

‘Cash for no sickies’: The bizarre aged care home incentive to work even if sick

Cash for sickies

The payment was on offer despite Queensland remaining in the grip of the Omicron outbreak, and aged care workers having a legal obligation not to come to work if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

The aged care home was offering staff an extra $300 per quarter if they took no sick leave, amounting to $1,200 for the year, according to a report in The Courier Mail.

A sign posted in the aged care home said, “Blue Care are giving you an extra $300 if every three months you have no sick leave within that period and you are 100% SABA compliant. A total of $1,200 a year.”

The $1,200 ‘bonus’ is 50% more than the government’s $800 payment, which was offered amid widespread concern about staff burnout in a bid to entice workers to remain in the sector.

So far this year 742 residents have died with COVID-19, leaving thousands of residents and staff exposed to the deadly virus, and forcing thousands of staff into periods of compulsory isolation.

Staff shortages have become so severe the government has complied with provider requests to bring in the ADF (Australian Defence Force). However, according to data from 18 February 2022, only 20 troops have been deployed in Queensland aged care homes so far, and 163 have been deployed nationwide.

According to The Courier Mail report, Uniting Care confirmed the cash bonus incentive had been offered, but said it was done “mistakenly” and has since been “cancelled”.

A spokesperson for Uniting Care said its staff are required to stay home when they are unwell.

United Workers Union national aged care director, Carolyn Smith, told The Courier Mail the incentive showed the “terrible impact of Omicron on staffing levels” in aged care.

“These signs … make a mockery of workers’ legal obligations to stay at home if they have COVID symptoms and put staff and aged care residents at further risk,” she said.

If the sector is really serious about encouraging staff to work in the sector, they should begin by offering them secure and fairly paid jobs in the first place – and the government needs to acknowledge this.

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  1. It may have been ill advised, in either its terminology or presentation, but that does not make the idea in, and of itself, a deliberate attempt to entice staff who are sick to work. Similar reward schemes have been used by aged care providers to thank staff for their work ethic and management of their own health. The provision of a day off a month for employee wellbeing, mental health support or to get stuff done is very common for salaried staff in the industry. Negative spin could be applied to criticize that as an attempt to stop that group of staff using sick leave. It is time we stopped being so critical and negative of things that happen in the aged care industry. Staff do take days off and use sick leave, when they are not sick. It is not a new phenomena. Was this an attempt to reduce that, possibly. As an idea does it have some merit, yes. It is little wonder the public, residents and staff have such a negative view of the industry.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. You mentioned SALARIED STAFF. There are NO salaried staff on the floor. There may be permanent part or full-time, but MOST seem to be CASUAL. IE NO sick leave or paid holidays.

  2. Staff don’t want to work due to other staff not being there due to heavy workloads! I have seen similar things happen in my own work place to encourage staff not to take sick leave and this was BEFORE THE PANDEMIC! Chasing their tails all the time! Cash bonuses of $100.00 and gift cards all to entice the staff. The ridiculous thing about all this enticement with money etc is they are so hellbent on cutting staff hours and fighting for shit EBA agreements that leave the staff no better off financially that they undermine the staff and what the6breall6 need to do, raise the rate of pay for all!! What better incentive could there possibly be!!!???

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