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Aged care workers receive a pay increase

More than 250,000 aged care workers in Australia are set to receive a 15 per cent wage increase after the government allocated $11.3 billion to fund pay rises in its federal budget.

The increase applies to direct care aged care workers and some senior roles in residential and home care settings, which come into effect from the first full pay period on or after June 3 2023.

The Australian government committed $11.3bn towards aged care wages to tackle workforce shortages and retain more staff.

The rise applies to direct aged care staff, including personal care workers (PCWs), recreation/lifestyle activities officers, nursing assistants, enrolled nurses, registered nurses, nurse practitioners working in aged care, and home care workers.

It also applies to the most senior food services employee (levels 4-7) covered by the Aged Care Award and working at a specific aged care facility or site.

But roughly 20 per cent of Australia's aged care workforce working in supporting and 'less senior roles', such as cleaners and laundry assistants, have been excluded from the pay rise.

"They're not acknowledging us. It's like we don't exist," Aaron Wilson, maintenance manager in an aged care home, said to Aged Care Insite late last year.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is still deliberating on further increases for direct care workers, including a potential 25 per cent work value claim

The Commission is also assessing extending wage increases to other staff categories, such as cleaners, gardeners, and administration personnel.

Earlier this year, it ruled to increase all minimum award wages by 5.75 per cent from July 1, which included staff affected by the 15 per cent increase from the Annual Wage Review.

This meant that the National Minimum Wage would rise to $882.80 per week or $23.23 per hour for employees not covered by an award or registered agreement.

Award-based employees would see a 5.75 per cent wage increase starting from the first pay period on July 1 or July 3 if the weekly pay period starts the following Monday.

The FWC clarified that the minimum wage increase may apply to employees covered by registered agreements, as the 'base pay rate in an agreement cannot be lower than the base rate in the corresponding award.'

While union advocates welcomed the government's promise to pick up the bill, they said there was a funding shortfall for the 5.75 per cent increase in the Award.

The Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) urged the government to seek advice from the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority (IHACPA).

IHACPA, an agency within the federal health department, has incorporated wage and inflation adjustments into the new AN-ACC price for the upcoming financial year.

"This can be easily fixed," ACCPA chief Tom Symondson said.

"But we desperately need that process to happen soon and are advocating strongly that it must."

But Mark Richardson, Assistant Secretary from Residential Care Funding Reform Branch, assured providers during a recent webinar that the AN-ACC price covered both pay rises.

He emphasised that the wage indexation applied to all workers and included 'an inflation component' for the non-wage part of the AN-ACC price.

The pay rise funding package involves a $10.1bn over four years, raising the AN-ACC price to $243.10, with $7.6bn towards the wage increase and $2.5bn for cost indexation.

It also includes a new hotelling supplement, additional funding for care minutes, and an increased 24/7 registered nurse supplement.

Home care providers will see an 11.9 per cent increase in the Home Care Package subsidy and supplements to support higher wages.

For the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), the department plans to initiate a grant process in early August to top up funding for the actual costs associated with the FWC decision.

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One comment

  1. As a home care provider we can only recoup the wage increase through the increase cost of services for care workers.

    If the client refuses to accept the increase in cost (and some have) there is nothing we can do. even though their package funding was increased to compensate this, does anyone else see how ludicrous this has become.

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