Up to 300,000 older workers nationwide will get a temporary 15% wage increase, or an additional four dollars an hour.
The interim decision, issued by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) last Friday did not determine when the hike will be implemented.
Elderly care Minister Anika Wells said it was a “promising first step” in reforming the sector which was “desperately needed”, since the existing minimum rates do not “compensate properly employees for valueand something the workers “deeply deserved.”
In March 2021, Royal Commission on the Quality and Safety of Elderly Care advised a 25% increase for older workers, after seeing low wages have contributed to staff shortages.
Unions have demanded a 25% pay rise, or an additional $5 an hour, although the FWC has left open the possibility of recommending further raises.
FWC 300 page decision said work in feminized industries had historically been undervalued.
“We accept the evidence that, as a general proposition, work in feminized industries – including care work – has historically been undervalued and that the reason for this undervaluation is likely gender-based,” we read in the report.
decision “made it clear that the interim raise does not conclude its review of the unions’ demand for a 25% raise for other employees.”
Many hope the rate will be increased, with the decision clarifying: “nor has the full bench suggested that the 15% interim increase necessarily exhausts the extent of the justified increase”.
“Whether any additional increases are warranted will be subject to submissions at Step 3 of these proceedings,” the ruling said. Lily.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed the announcement, saying it would help close the gender pay gap in the aged care sector, where 85% of workers are women.
“The interim report of the royal commission into aged care was titled with one word, ‘neglect,'” he told reporters in Queensland last week.
“He documented that more than half of elderly residents were not getting the nutrition they needed.”
“We have to recognize that…it’s a lot of feminized industries, elderly care, early learning, disability care that are female dominated where women don’t have the same bargaining power as other industries. other sections of the workforce.”
“That’s one of the reasons wages were withheld.”
The Albanese government hopes to legislate the final changes. If successful, workers from different employers in a sector will be able to collectively bargain their wages more easily by the end of the year.
Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, also welcomed the announcement.
“This victory for government, unions and the community calls into question the need for sweeping changes to Australia’s bargaining laws,” she said.
“What won’t bring pay rises to Australians is an even more complex bargaining system that opens the door to industrial chaos, strikes and disruptions.”
“It shows that the rewards system can boost the wages of hundreds of thousands of Australians when it works.”
“The driving factor in many feminized industries like aged care and childcare is government funding, so we welcome the government’s commitment to pay for this increase.”
“We want low-wage people to earn more and the rewards system is the best place to do that.”
Health Services Union national president Gerard Hayes described the interim decision as “a down payment.”
“But no one should make a mistake, this will not solve the crisis”, he said The Guardian.
“We still have huge unfinished business in elderly care. Over the past decade, this industry has relied on the goodwill of an exploited and precarious workforce. Today represents progress, but the legal, political and industrial fight continues.
United Workers Union senior care director Carolyn Smith insists on implementing the pay rise quickly, as her decision recognizes that older workers “have been underpaid to do work that doesn’t has not been properly valued for decades, if ever”.
“The Fair Work Commission’s 15% wage increase order for direct care workers in aged care – including nurses, ANCs, personal care workers and residential care workers home – is a historic moment and begins to address the systemic underpayments that have caused a crisis in the sector,” she said.
Smith added that any exclusion of other types of social workers from the interim ruling, such as lifestyle workers or other elder support workers, would leave those people “gutted.”
“Anyone familiar with elder care knows that lifestyle, laundry and catering are key to providing the quality care residents need,” she said.
“It is a bitter pill for these workers that decisions on their pay rise have been postponed.”
Labor Secretary Tony Burke said ‘Aged care work is hard work – but it is undervalued work’.
“This result is the first step to changing that,” he said. “We fought for this pay rise because our government is committed to getting wages moving again – especially in low-paying, female-dominated industries like this.”
FWC has given co-employers and the federal government more time to make representations regarding the timing and implementation of the increase, with hearings scheduled for late November.