Mar 29, 2023

Investigation launched into unpaid RAT testing in aged care

Are you an aged care worker who was required to come to work early and do a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in your own time?

You could be entitled to some back pay. The United Workers Union (UWU) is launching an investigation into the legalities of unpaid RAT testing in aged care during the COVID-19 pandemic which could result in legal action and back pay awarded to affected workers. 

UWU members have reported that their workplaces told them to arrive at work 10-15 minutes early to do a mandatory RAT before starting work and were not paid for that time. 

UWU Aged Care Director, Carolyn Smith, said 15 minutes a day adds up quickly and that UWU wants to find out just how widespread this issue is.

“What we don’t know is exactly how widespread this is. That is why we have launched our investigation,” she explained.

“Aged care workers have been on the front line of this pandemic. Requiring them to show up to work early to complete a RAT test every day is essentially asking low-paid workers to donate their time.

“15 minutes a day very quickly add up – it is our view is that workers should be paid for this time.”

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) also backed these sentiments, agreeing that workers should be doing RATs in paid time if it’s a prerequisite to coming to work imposed by the employer. 

“But that’s where it’s become tricky: who is imposing the obligation? Is it the department or the employer?” said ANMF (Victoria Branch) Assistant Secretary, Paul Gilbert.

“I think in most cases, certainly now, it’s the employer, which makes that less complex because there is no mandate or requirement as such for visitors to be tested.

“So if employers are still doing it, and they’re the ones making the requirement that happen, RATS should happen in paid time.”

Each State and Territory has their own COVID-19 rules, but the responsibility to establish and enforce protocol at individual aged care facilities has been passed on from the Federal Government to the provider. 

HelloCare contacted the Aged & Community Care Providers Association, but received no comment.

To take part in the investigation, visit the UWU website

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  1. If you have caught covid, just as likely in your own time and space, why would it be the obligation of the employer to cover that cost. Unions have become irrelevant and are struggling for credibility.

  2. As a visitor to an aged care facility I am required to declare that I have rat tested every time I enter that facility and prove it if called upon to to so. This is in South Australia and I provide my own rat tests.

  3. Please, make sure we get reimbursed, this WAS PROMISED to us and everyone has been to scared to bring this to the attention of their bosses for fear of reprisal and being told that it was not promised, in other words “shut up:

  4. That’s not what this is about. This is about employers requesting asymptomatic staff take 15 mins out of their day, sometimes every day, before work, to test for Covid. This is not a public health order. 15 mins every day for months and months on end equals thousands of dollars. These are not salaried employees. If they are asked to come in early, they should be paid. If aged care workers weren’t already absolutely flogged they might be able to fit this 15 min task into their daily routine. But they are already pressed. This is basically forced overtime. Pretty simple Anton.


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