The aged care worker retention bonus announced by the government in March has not gone down as well as Richard Colbeck might have imagined.
Originally it was announced as a payment of up to $800 after tax per quarter – paid for two quarters – for direct care workers. And two payments of up to $600 after tax per quarter – for two quarters – for those who provide care in the home.
The first issue arose when it was later announced that the payment would actually be $800 before tax.
The United Workers union called this backflip an “insult” to aged care workers, while the ANMF said the announcement shows that the government don’t think aged care workers are worth the money.
“This bonus was intended to recognise the dedication and commitment aged care workers have continued to show in treating and protecting older Australians during the crisis, potentially putting their own safety and their families’ safety at risk,” ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler said.
“The Government has backflipped on its promise, which was in writing to every aged care worker, and now said ‘we don’t actually think you’re worth the full amount’.”
The second issue is that the definition of a ‘direct care worker’ seems somewhat unclear. It turns out that most of the aged care workforce is not eligible for the bonus, despite continuing to ensure aged care homes run smoothly during the pandemic.
VMCH aged care CEO Sonya Smart said the eligibility criteria is creating unnecessary alarm, anger and resentment from staff.
“In an industry which already faces a great deal of public scrutiny, I believe the arbitrary eligibility criteria are contributing to devaluing of our staff members’ perceived level of contribution to the safety and wellbeing of our residents and clients.”
Peninsula Villages CEO Shane Neaves is equally upset about the way the bonus is handed out and wrote an open letter to Minister Colbeck asking him to reconsider.
“I openly invite the Government to address the ‘non-direct care’ workers who have risked their own personal safety to work in the aged care sector and provide important interaction with our residents as to why they aren’t being rewarded. Only recognising one side of the sector is poor form,” he continued.
Aged Care Insite spoke with Neaves about how the retention bonus is affecting his workforce.
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