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Wage Increase for Residential Aged Care Workers: Update June 2022

21/06/22
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With the new Labor Government recently elected, the debate about a wage increase for residential aged care workers has been in the spotlight. Today, we discuss the latest updates.

 

Fair Work Commission Case – an Overview

The Health Care Services Union (Union) and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Federation) have brought a case before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to seek to vary several awards to increase pay for aged care workers by 25 per cent.

The Union and Federation are arguing that pay rates in aged care don’t meet the Fair Work Act’s requirements of a fair minimum wage, with an hourly rate of just $22 being reported for personal care workers. Industry stakeholders have also suggested that a wage rise is needed to attract and retain skilled workers in the industry.

If the case succeeds, a 25 per cent wage increase would apply to:

  • enrolled nurses, care workers, registered nurses and nurse practitioners working under the Nurses Award who work in aged care
  • care workers, general and administrative service employees and food services employees under the Aged Care Award
  • home care workers, crisis assistance and support housing staff, social and community services workers and family day care scheme workers who fall under the Social, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award.

If the case succeeds, the FWC would allow the Industrial Tribunal to raise wages across the sector. This would mean different things for different workers depending on their level under the applicable award. Generally, it could see the minimum wage in aged care rise by at least $5.00 an hour.

The FWC began accepting written evidence in the matter on 26 April 2022.

 

New Labor Government to Join FWC Case

The recent Federal election saw a new Labor Government elected. The new Government has asked to join the FWC case regarding aged care wages. The FWC agreed to let them join and has rescheduled everything to give the Government time to make submissions.

Previously, the final oral hearings were scheduled for 5 and 6 July. The schedule has been changed so that final oral hearings will now occur on 24 and 25 August 2022 in Melbourne and 1 September 2022 in Sydney.

 

New Government’s Views on the Wage Increase for Residential Aged Care Workers

The Labor Party has promised to abide by the FWC decision. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said that the FWC’s decision must be “binding” and that the Government will fund the outcome of the case.

Newly appointed Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said that the Labor Government would be “focusing very heavily” on workforce issues, such as “getting nurses back into nursing homes, making sure that [care workers] have more time to care and improving the wages of some of the most underpaid people in the community”.

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About the Author

Elita Bird

Elita is a Legal Content Associate at CompliSpace. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws at the University of New England.

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