Aged care workers are set to receive a substantial pay rise, after a ruling by the Fair Work Commission upheld a 15% increase for the industry.
The decision, issued by the Commission on Friday, comes more than 18 months after a royal commission report was tabled, which recommended a 25% increase for older workers.
The timing of the wage increase is expected to be discussed later this month, with the FWC expected to seek input from the Federal Government, employers and government before issuing Stages Two and Three of its decision.
The FWC said in its decision, which spanned more than 300 pages, that work in feminized industries had traditionally 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,” they said in their decision.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the “welcome” announcement would help close the gender pay gap.
“We have to recognize that…it’s a lot of feminized industries, aged 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,” he told reporters on the Côte du Soleil.
“That’s one of the reasons wages were withheld.”
The federal government set aside an unspecified amount in the budget’s contingency reserve to pay for the increase.
Pressed to clarify exactly how much he expects the budget will have to shell out to pay for the increase, Mr Albanese said he would not say until the FWC makes its final decision.
“We don’t declare it, that’s why it’s called contingency (reserve),” he said.
Last month’s budget projected that federal spending on senior care services would rise 50% to $34.7 billion from the previous fiscal year to 2025-26, reflecting growth in improving care for seniors. elderly people in institutions.
In its interim report, the commission said it would pursue considerations for some workers in the sector to get a bigger raise.
“We would like to clarify that this does not end our review of the unions’ demand for a 25% raise for other employees, namely administrative, support and elderly care employees,” they said. declared.
“Nor are we suggesting that the interim 15% increase necessarily exhausts the scope of the increase justified on labor value grounds with respect to direct care workers.”
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott seized on the announcement, using it to fend off pressure for multi-employer bargaining.
“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.”
The Albanian government wants to legislate the changes, which would make it easier for workers from different employers in a sector to bargain collectively, by the end of the year.