Pay rise welcome, but frustration in delay

Stakeholders agree that workers are disappointed that the wage hike won’t kick-in until 2025.

The provider peak acknowledges that aged care workers will be disappointed at hearing that their pay rise will be on-hold until next year.

On Thursday, determining the Stage 3 aged care decision, independent workplace tribunal the Fair Work Commission announced that aged care workers won’t be receiving their pay upgrades until 1 January 2025.

Furthermore, the wage hike awarded to direct care workers will be staggered over two stages: 50 per cent on 1 January 2025 and 50 per cent from 1 October 2025 – indirect care workers will receive their money in full.

Rob Versteeg

“We acknowledge the disappointment of workers who will have to wait for increases and the frustration of their employers,” Roald Versteeg – general manager policy and advocacy at the Aged & Community Care Providers Association – told Community Care Review.

“The government informed the commission that it could not provide the full funding until 1 January 2025 and that the increases had to be in two tranches. The commission’s decision reflects that submission by the government,” added Mr Versteeg.

In fact, the government’s submission to the FWC proposed that the second tranche of pay rises for direct care workers be released 12 months after the first – 1 January 2026.

Gerard Hayes

“The commission’s decision to bring the introduction of the increase forward three months faster than the government wanted is a welcome improvement. But the government should not have to be dragged to this position,” said Health Services Union national president Gerard Hayes. 

The HSU called for the pay rise to come into effect in full for all aged care workers on 30 June 2024. “The attraction and retention crisis in aged care is with us now and there’s no sense in delaying wage justice for a workforce that strives so hard for such modest reward,” said Mr Hayes.

Annie Butler

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation also called for a 30 June implementation date. ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler told CCR the organisation had argued for the wage rises to flow-through immediately to all aged care employees.

“Aged care workers have been subsidising the profit margins of their employers, the Commonwealth budget, and taxpayer, for some time,” she said. “Despite these submissions, the FWC, determined, that in light of the 15 per cent interim award rate increase already granted and the recent annual wage review increase, the Commonwealth request for a staggered wage increase was reasonable.”

Tom Symondson

ACCPA, however, backed the government’s proposal to phase in the wage increases from next year. “It would be irresponsible for us to take a decision to the Fair Work Commission which supports a start date for the increases that is not linked to the commencement of additional funding,” ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson told CCR in May.

In March, the workplace tribunal awarded non-direct residential care workers a pay rise of between 3 and 7 per cent; direct care workers won up to 28 per cent inclusive of the 15 per cent increase they’ve been receiving since July last year.

“We welcome these pay rises as acknowledgment of the wonderful job our workers perform caring for older Australians every day,” Mr Versteeg told CCR. “We’re also looking forward to the Fair Work Commission decision on further pay increases for enrolled nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners working in aged care.”

As is the ANMF, which has expressed to CCR its concern that nurses have been left hanging.  “Additional pay increases for ENs and RNs are still being considered by the FWC in both the aged care work value case and a separate work value case made by the ANMF for all employees covered by the Nurses Award 2020,” said Ms Butler. “The ANMF hopes a result can be achieved quickly so that all nurses working in Australia’s aged care system finally receive a long-awaited and much-deserved increase to award wages.”

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Tags: ACCPA, FWC, Gerard Hayes, hsu, pay rise, Roald Versteeg, Tom Symondson, work-value-case,

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