Govt announces bonus for workers, tells providers to get cracking

Aged care minister Greg Hunt has urged aged care providers to make newly announced bonus payments available to employees as soon as possible.

Aged care minister Greg hunt has urged providers to make bonus payments announced this week available to employees as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced during an appearance at the National Press Club on Tuesday that workers in government subsidised aged care, including the home care sector, will get a bonus of up to $800 in coming months.

Mr Morrison said the bonus was in recognition of their efforts during Covid-19 and described the aged care workforce as “the true heroes of this pandemic” and was designed to keep employees from leaving the sector.

“The $400 payments (are) retention payments, that’s what they effectively are. We’ve already done this once before. And we know it works,” he said.

“Their resilience over the past two years has been nothing short of inspiring.

“That’ why I’m announcing today the government is providing a further $209 million to support the aged care workforce to continue to care for older Australians through this pandemic.”

Workers employed on 28 February 2022 will get a payment of up to $400, with a second instalment of up to $400 made to workers employed on 28 April 2022.

However CHSP staff will miss out on the payment, as will home care workers in maintenance, reception and lifestyle program roles. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces the bonus payments at the National Press Club on February 1, 2022.

Aged care providers will have to apply for the payments and pass them on to employees.

“I encourage providers to make this payment to eligible employees as soon as possible after they have confirmation of the amount of the payment,” Mr Hunt said.

He said the payments acknowledged the response of the aged care workforce to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

“The Government is providing these bonus payments to aged care workers in recognition of their dedication in continuing to care for our vulnerable older Australians during these difficult times,” the minister said.

“These workers have been caring for those who have been most at risk through the pandemic and their dedication has been outstanding.”

‘Grossly inadequate’

But the announcement was met by criticism, including from the The Australian Aged Care Collaboration, which represents more than 1,000 organisations that deliver 70 per cent of aged care services including industry peaks ACSA and LASA and leading providers.

The collaboration, which wants an ongoing Covid-19 payment for each shift, said the two pro-rata payments were “grossly inadequate” and would do nothing to stop the feared exodus of frontline staff.

The collaboration also said it was disappointing to learn that many staff, including those providing CHSP services, would be excluded.

“Some staff will receive the payment while their colleagues will not – despite them all facing similar risks and work challenges,” it said.

The escalating aged care crisis caused by Omicron had left aged care workers experiencing “extraordinary levels of stress” and working long hours in PPE, the group said.

“The announcement still does not address our call last month for additional payments to workers under enormous strain working to protect older vulnerable people during the COVID Omicron surge,” the collaboration said in a statement.

“Aged care providers and unions are resolute in their call on the prime minister to do more than a two-payment bonus for overwhelmed aged care workers at nursing homes, and those delivering services out in the community right across the country.”

The union representing aged care workers said the announcement of the financial bonuses was a welcome relief but wouldn’t fix systemic issues in the industry, including low pay, understaffing, lack of RATs and inadequate PPE.

“However we do welcome Scott Morrison’s admission that aged care wages need to be substantially improved, something we have been saying for a long time now,” the United Workers Union said in a statement.

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Tags: aged-care-workforce, bonus-payments, covid-19, featured,

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