What is the HSU’s Aged Care Work Value Case?

On 12 November 2020, HSU members filed an application in the Fair Work Commission
seeking a 25% increase to classifications in the Aged Care Award (and subsequently, the
SCHADS Award).

Our claim was that aged care work had historically been undervalued and we asked the
Commission to assess the work value.

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Frequently asked questions about the Work Value Case and what it means:

What happened in the case?

Over the course of several years, HSU members presented our case. This included over 60 HSU witnesses who gave direct evidence about working in the sector; expert evidence from academics and specialists in the sector; and physical inspections of work by the Fair Work Commission, in multiple aged care workplaces around Australia.

The Fair Work Commission held hearings between 2021 – 2023 to examine the work of aged care workers, in order to assess whether there should be changes to the Award rates of pay, on the basis of “work value reasons”.

What happened last year?

In February 2023, the Fair Work Commission issued a decision for an ‘interim increase’ of 15% for some ‘direct care’ workers, finding that the rates of pay “do not properly compensate workers…for the value of the work performed.” This was called Stage 1 of the HSU’s Work Value Case.

The Fair Work Commission called for more evidence about the work of ‘indirect care’ workers and further hearings were held in December 2023.

I’m on an enterprise agreement, what does this mean for me?

Even if you are covered by an enterprise agreement, the Award will set the new minimum rates of
pay across the sector. This means that you must not be paid less than the rate pf pay that you would
otherwise receive under the award.


Why did some roles get a different increase to others?

The Fair Work Commission examined the evidence presented from all aged care roles.
Direct care In respect of direct care employees, the Commission was satisfied that there are ‘work value reasons’ for the minimum award rates of pay for such employees to be increased substantially beyond the 15 per cent interim increase determined in the Stage 1 decision.

Further, the Commission said that it was not possible to determine the correct minimum rate for all direct care workers, simply by awarding a uniform percentage increase in pay rates. Instead, the Commission identified a ‘benchmark pay rate’ for a key classification and then constructed a new and uniform classification structure on the basis of that benchmark rate. This is why there is some difference between percentage increases within the direct care classification structure.
Indirect care The Fair Work Commission examined the roles of indirect care employees, and compared that to the work of direct care employees, to assess whether the pay increase should be the same.

The Commission found:

“Without diminishing the importance of the work of indirect care for the proper functioning of
residential aged care facilities, the Expert Panel concludes that the above workers do not perform
work of equivalent value to direct care workers justifying equal rates of pay.”

However, the Commission did conclude that there have been some areas of work value changes to indirect care employees, resulting in a 3% increase across all indirect care roles.

Further, the Commission concluded that laundry hands, cleaners and food services assistants interact with residents significantly more regularly than other indirect care employees and this constitutes a work value reason for an additional adjustment to their rates of pay.

Accordingly, laundry hands, cleaners and food services assistants will be moved from Level 2 to Level 3 in the Aged Care Award classification structure for indirect care employees, resulting in a total pay increase for workers in these roles of 6.96 per cent, (inclusive of the three per cent increase awarded to indirect care employees generally).

Download a full breakdown of what the decision means in PDF form here

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