Home | Industry & Reform | ‘Wage justice’: Big pay rise for aged care workers
Aged care workers to get up to a 28.5 per cent average pay rise as health union says it is ‘one of the best outcomes’ ever achieved.

‘Wage justice’: Big pay rise for aged care workers

Aged care workers have secured a “historic” pay rise – some getting up to a 28.5 per cent increase – in what has been called a “life-changing” improvement for one of Australia’s most undervalued work forces.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) delivered the major update on Friday following an anxious wait for consultation on the proposed changes.

The decision will impact more than 100,000 indirect employees in the sector, and comes four years after the Health Services Union lodged an application for a 25 per cent across-the-board increase.

The commission awarded direct care employees an interim 15 per cent pay rise at the end of 2022 but since then the union has continued to push for an increase for all staff.

Direct care employees are due to get topped up to the 28.5 per cent increase depending on their skill level and qualifications.

Nursing assistants secured increases between 17.9 and 23 per cent.

Health Services Union national president Gerard Hayes said the wage increase delivered justice and dignity to the workforce and the residents "they devote themselves to".

“This is a historic improvement that will usher in a new era of decency and dignity in our aged care homes,” Mr Hayes said.

“For the last decade, aged care has been held together by the goodwill and commitment of a severely underpaid, insecurely employed workforce.

“Today, those workers have won wage justice.”

The pay of support services workers such as laundry hands, cleaners and food services assistants will increase by 6.8 per cent through a combination of increased wages and reclassification.

In their published reasons, the commission said people involved in direct care deserved a “substantially” higher increase than the interim 15 per cent increase.

“We consider it more likely than not that the supply of direct care labour to the aged care sector, and the retention of direct care employees, will continue to improve over the medium term,” the commission’s decision says.

“The interim 15 per cent pay rate increase will operate, we consider, as an ongoing incentive for workers to enter into and stay in the sector.

“This will be further enhanced by the additional wage increases which we propose to award to direct care employees.”

A rate of $1223.90 per week for Certificate 3-qualified employees was considered appropriate, according to the FWC’s decision.

In a joint statement, Employment Minister Tony Burke, Health Minister Mark Butler, and Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said the government welcomed the decision from the FWC.

The government has already committed funding to fund the award, including some $11bn over five years to meet the previous 15 per cent increase.

“We are closely examining the content of this decision, which is lengthy and highly detailed,” the statement read.

“We have committed to provide funding to support increases to award wages made by the Fair Work Commission in this matter and that will help deliver a higher standard of care for older Australians.

“Our government wants people to earn more and keep more of what they earn – that’s why we’re fighting for a better future for aged care workers.”

Anglicare Australia has also welcomed the move as a way to recognise the female-dominated workforce was “underpaid”.

“A strong workforce is well trained and skilled. Wages must reflect this,” executive director Kasy Chambers said.

“That’s why this decision is an important step for the sector – and the older Australians who rely on us for care.

“Now we need to ensure that the government stands by its commitment to fund these pay increases.”

However, work still remains to lift the wages of non-direct care workers, with Uniting chief Tracey Burton, saying she was disappointed their increase was minimal.

"We are disappointed the FWC's recommendations do not include the same 15% increase for indirect workers that direct care workers were awarded in Stage 2," Ms Burton said.

"Last year, while we welcomed the 15% wage increase for direct care workers, we were disappointed that so many other non-frontline workers, such as cooks, cleaners and administrative staff, were left out, and now while we are happy they have received a slight increase, we would have liked to have seen it be more substantial. 

"Let’s not forget all of our aged care workers were our heroes during Covid, leaving their own families to work and care for our elderly, often for extended periods."

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  1. No one thinks or looks about what the cleaners do in agecare ,in all the rooms every day with the clients talking and making them happy while cleaning the rooms ,when they are sick ,infected making there room and bathroom clean to get rid of all germs and infections putting on and taking off ppe ,if it wasn’t for cleaners agecare would be closed they need cleaners we do our bit for agecare thankyou

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