FWC announces interim work value decision

The Fair Work Commission has announced its long-awaited aged care work value ruling, awarding home and residential care workers a 15 per cent pay rise.

The Fair Work Commission has announced its long-awaited aged care work value case ruling, awarding residential and home care workers a 15 per cent pay rise.

However, the FWC said it was only an interim, stage one decision and that it only applied to direct care staff, such as nurses.

“The existing minimum rates,” said the commission in a summary of its decision released Friday afternoon, “do not properly compensate employees” for their work.

It described the sector’s largely female workforce as “historically undervalued and that the reason for the undervaluation is likely to be gender-based.”

A core recommendation of the aged care royal commission’s final report last year, unions had been calling for a wage hike – for all sector workers, frontline and support staff – of 25 per cent.  

Gerard Hayes, national president of the Health Services Union – which initiated the work value case in 2020 – told Community Care Review the ruling was a move “in the right direction”. However, he added there was “more to do”.

This was recognised by the FWC itself. “We wish to make it clear that this [decision] does not conclude our consideration of the unions’ claim for a 25 per cent increase for other employees, namely administrative and support aged care employees,” said the commission in its summary paper.

It added: “Nor are we suggesting the 15 per cent interim increase necessarily exhausts the extent of the increase justified by work value reasons in respect of direct care workers.”

“A very important first step.”

Anika Wells

Meanwhile, speaking in parliament, Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells said aged care workers deserved the pay rise. “Working in aged care is difficult. It is physically and emotionally demanding, and it is skilled work. And so prior to the election, we promised to support a meaningful pay rise for [home care workers] and people in residential aged care.”

The interim offer, added Ms Wells was “a very important first step.”

The second step of the process – for which directions will be issued on Tuesday 22 November – will allow stakeholders the opportunity to make further submissions and address the timing and phasing-in of the wage increases.

Wage adjustments for workers not dealt with in stage one – such as kitchen, laundry, recreation, and other indirect care staff – will be determined in stage three of the process.

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Tags: Anika Wells, Fair Work Commission, pay rise,

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