Aged care workers have successfully concluded their lengthy Fair Work case, resulting in a wage hike of up to 28.5 percent across the entire sector.

In November 2020, the Health Services Union (HSU) initiated a work value case with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) concerning aged care, advocating for a 25 percent wage increase for all staff members.

The union contended that the nature of the work had been undervalued, citing its increasing complexity and its predominantly female workforce.

The FWC’s ruling acknowledged historical undervaluation of aged care sector employees, attributing it to gender-based assumptions prevalent during the establishment of wage standards. These historical issues were perpetuated into the modern awards system.

Although an interim pay increase of 15 percent was granted to direct care employees in 2022, the union argued that wages remained inadequate and failed to address the critical shortage of aged care workers.

The commission identified deficiencies in pay rates for degree-qualified nurses under the Nurses Award, as the federal award system did not recognize the heightened value of nursing as a profession.

A substantial increase

Hourly wages for direct care workers will now see an increase ranging from 18 to 28 percent, including the previous 15 percent rise, significantly impacting pay scales.

Support service workers, such as laundry staff, cleaners, and food service assistants, are expected to witness a 6.8 percent boost in employment due to improved wages and reclassification.

Gerard Hayes, HSU national president, hailed this as a historic advancement that would bring about a new era of respect and dignity in aged care facilities.

The decision encompasses more than 200,000 residential and home care workers and aligns with a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which highlighted widespread issues of overwork, neglect, and abuse within the sector.

However, the sector is already grappling with challenges in delivering adequate services despite substantial government funding.

Seems like the best time to join the industry!

The federal government has recently formed a task force to propose reforms for the sector, including suggestions to increase contributions from wealthier Australians for their care.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized the importance of adequately compensating aged care workers, echoing sentiments from the royal commission report calling for dignity and respect for older Australians.

A joint statement from the ministers for employment, health, and aged care welcomed the FWC decision, affirming the government’s commitment to securing a pay rise for aged care workers and highlighting previous efforts to support wage increases.

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