The Fair Work Commission will be implementing the full 15% aged care wage increase by June 30 rather than the staggered approach initially proposed by the Government.
FWC also decided to expand coverage of ithe wage increase to include personal care workers, recreational activity officers and chefs from June 30, a move welcomed by the aged care sector.
After reviewing the evidence, the FWC yesterday confirmed it would increase the minimum wage of the Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award (SCHADS Award) by 15% from June 30 in full instead of over an 18 month period.
Head chefs and recreational activities/lifestyle officers will now be included in the pay increase alongside direct care workers.
Last December, a Government submission to FWC revealed it would not introduce a 10% pay rise until July 1, with the remaining 5% to be phased in 12 months later, a move criticised by sector stakeholders.
The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) and Health Services Union (HSU) both backed the decision to extend the pay increase to more industry workers and said it was a step in the right direction but that more still needs to be done.
HSU National President, Gerard Hayes, said this is a step in the right direction and to prevent aged care from collapsing, every link in the chain must be strengthened.
“There’s no point lifting wages for direct care workers if large chunks of the workforce miss out,” he said.
“Some aged care workers are paid as little as $22 per hour and are really struggling to stay in the sector. This provides some light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
“Aged care tends to the whole person and therefore needs a ‘wholistic’ workforce.”
Mr Hayes also said the Union will continue its efforts to have more aged care workers included in the pay increase and push for an additional 10% increase to be applied, taking the entire increase to 25%.
ACWIC Deputy Chair, Graeme Prior, said this pay increase is a well-deserved acknowledgement for these workers but agreed there were still other aged care workers being excluded.
“I encourage the Commonwealth to move quickly to support the funding of the wage rise in full, from June 30,” he explained.
“However, there are still other aged care workers including support and administration staff, and other food services workers, who are not included in the wage increase.
“These workers are central to the provision of safe, person-centred care and their work should be properly valued.”
Aged care peak body, Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) also welcomed the FWC’s decision but has concerns that they have chosen not to align the pay-rises with Government funding.
ACCPA voiced that while increases to salaries are sorely needed so is matched funding and that the aged care sector is in financial crisis and cannot afford unfunded pay rises of this scale.
ACCPA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tom Symondson, said it is critical that Government revisits its position on funding.
“With seven out of every ten aged care providers already losing an average of $21 per resident per day, this decision of the Commission changes everything,” Mr Symondson said.
“We have publicly supported the need for significant pay-rises for our workforce, and fully supported the government’s 2022 election commitment to fully fund them. However, this must not be at the cost of our sector’s ability to deliver care to older Australians.
“We continue to engage with the Government to find a workable solution.”