A senate inquiry investigating Australia’s aged care workforce has been told that a portable entitlement scheme for aged care workers should be introduced to help tackle the sector’s retention problem.

Due to inadequate and unpredictable hours, many aged care employees worked for multiple employers, but their continuity of service and accrued long service leave entitlements were not recognised, United Voice has told the inquiry.

“Implementing a portable entitlements scheme would recognise the nature of work in this sector and demonstrate a valuing of aged care work,” United Voice wrote in its submission to the inquiry.

The union estimated 14 per cent of community aged care workers held multiple jobs, which was more than double the rate for the general workforce.

The scheme should also include the disability sector to recognise the entitlements of those employed across both sectors, the union said.

The ACT Labor Government has committed to introducing portable long service leave entitlements for aged care workers, extending its scheme which already covers the community sector, cleaning and construction industries in Canberra.

A senate inquiry into the feasibility of portable long service schemes was completed last month and recommended the government undertake detailed modelling to determine the potential cost to employers of extending portable long service leave entitlements.

Aged care employer peak bodies oppose extending portability of long service leave to the sector citing concerns regarding increased costs and administrative burden.

Zero hour contracts

United Voice also told the senate inquiry it was concerned about the emergence of zero hour contracts in the sector, which do not provide any guaranteed weekly hours or income for direct care workers.

The union said these contracts were a “troubling emerging trend” across both the aged and disability sectors.

“Zero hour contracts are not compatible with developing a professional, loyal and skilled workforce delivering quality care services. Continuity of care is more likely to be disrupted where zero hour contracts are used.”

The union also recommended that block funding of home care packages remain an option for specific groups of consumers where individualised funding is not working and in regional and remote areas to ensure the sustainability of services.

The inquiry into the future of the aged care workforce continues.

RELATED COVERAGE: Senate workforce probe hears quality of RTOs should be priority

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  1. How can the United Voice think you can build a ‘loyal & skilled’ workforce providing a ‘continuity of care’ if you are advocating a Long Service Scheme that increases the flexibility of employees to move between organisations (or work for multiple providers)? United Voice’s position to my reading are contradictory.

    Typical Union representation creating grand plans that are not very intuitive or helpful for the industry they are supposedly ‘representing’. All this Scheme will do is add an additional cost to the Industry that has no way to pass the costs on. The only people that will suffer in the end is the employees (as there is only 1 bucket of money and if it costs more per person, there will just be less people employed) and eventually the clients.

    Surely the term ‘Long Service’ is key, in that its supposed to be a entitlement gained from length of service to a business where we have built a strong corporate knowledge, shown loyalty and provided a ‘continuity of care’ for a long period of time. Having a Scheme that asks employers to pay from the first day the employee is employed is contradictory to the title of the Scheme! Plus who gets the money if you don’t stay long enough to claim it? The Government. Just like forgotten Super, that’s were the majority will end up, wonder why they’re so keen on it……

  2. As a member of United voice and also having worked in several different aged care sectors one for 10 years another for 7 and having no option but to leave my previous employer lost all my long service leave. It is a difficult industry to be in with respect to being given any recognition in salary or position for experience or qualification without loosing long service loyalty to the industry.
    Anything that might help towards getting people into this industry can only be a positive.

  3. I have been working as a nurse/carer for 44 years and have never been able to accrue the years worked with an employer and take long service leave. I am reaching retirement age and long service leave is not going to happen for me. I wonder just how many workers have retired without ever having long service leave? its about time this situation changed.

  4. Union view: “Zero hour contracts are not compatible with developing a professional, loyal and skilled workforce delivering quality care services. Continuity of care is more likely to be disrupted where zero hour contracts are used.”

    This is not the case. In the UK the majority of hourly care providers run their care services on zero hours contracts. This is attractive to workers who cannot work guaranteed hours for many reasons, school age children, caring for an elderly parent, working in with a partners shift system, etc. and rather than not developing a loyal professional workforce it does the opposite. It is also the most financially efficient way to provide care when the State is your main customer. Figures show that the UK Gov. purchases approx. 60% of its care on zero hours contracts.

    In the UK 24/7 care provision the majority of the workforce are sub contractors which again puts them in control of when they work and who they work for the result of which is a loyal workforce enthusiastic about learning new skills for their professional development. This point is from my personal experience of being a 24/7 care provider since 1980.

  5. Why are we following the UK model when the conditions for Aged Care workers in the UK are less than good! Scandinavia & Finland have great outcomes for workers and clients alike.
    Long service leave should go with the worker, where does all the accruals go when the worker moves on?
    There are many older workers that won’t have much choice in retirement expect for a possible pension.

  6. So the poor schmuk employer you’ve worked for for 1 year has to wear the long service leave you accrued for 9 years with your previous employer?

    Do you think prospective employers might consider such circumstances when they hire new staff? Here comes another discriminatory can of worms.

    It doesn’t seem like you’ve really thought this through properly.

  7. With zero contract hours, I can only wonder how a direct care worker will be able to get a loan from the bank to say, buy a new car when the car that they currently drive needs replacing after driving it from client to client for many years? In fact if you can’t actually prove with any certainty how much you will earn from week to week then how will you get a loan for a home, for anything at all. or rent a home or even have any utilities connected? It will become the sort of job that you can only have if you have a husband or someone else in your home that does have a wage and has proof of earning capacity. If you are single as I am how will you manage your life?

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