Updated: Case to lift aged care wages starts tomorrow – April 26

Updated June 9: The new Labor government has been given an extension until August 8 to reply to the unions’ 25% wage claim for aged care workers. The matter is now listed for hearing on:

a. 24 and 25 August for submissions by the Applicants and the Commonwealth;
b. 1 September for submissions by ABI, ACSA and LASA, and reply submissions

The Fair Work Commission will hear evidence relating to a claim for a 25 per cent pay rise for aged care workers. The matter is listed for hearing from April 26 to 11 May (inclusive), with 12 and 13 May reserved. View hearing schedule.

This is one of the most significant wage cases in recent history and covers personal care workers, recreational activities officers, catering, cleaning, administration, and other staff.

In the 2022-23 Budget, the Federal Government has not budgeted for any aged care pay rise, while an Albanese Government (if elected) has vowed to pay for the increase.

Entry-level personal care workers are currently paid $21.96 per hour – $2 higher than the national minimum wage. The Health Services Union (HSU) case seeks to lift wages between $5.40 and $7.20 per hour to increase the average wage to $29 per hour.

The HSU will argue the work of the aged care workforce is more complex and demanding than ever before.

“Aged care workers have endured horrendous working conditions over the last five years,” said Gerard Hayes, HSU National President. “The funding is just not there to support the level of care older Australians deserve. 

“The pandemic turned a desperate situation into a full-blown crisis. Aged care workers have strived to provide care but they’ve been hopelessly understaffed and worked long stretches without access to vaccines or protective equipment. The workforce has carried the cost of a callous, tight-fisted government that simply doesn’t care.

“This case is about rebalancing the scales and giving the long-suffering aged care workforce the decency and dignity it deserves.”

The HSU application also sets out an improved career structure through the introduction of a Specialist Personal Care Worker, trained to work in specialist areas like dementia and palliative care.

The wage claim comes at a time when the sector is facing unprecedented staff shortages and indications of a mass exodus, with research suggesting that 1 in 5 workers will resign.


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