Aged-care workers' pay set to rise by up to 28pc

St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, 15 March 2024

Aged-care staff are poised to get a wage rise of up to 28 per cent after the Fair Work Commission handed down a landmark decision for the sector.

About 400,000 workers in the sector will receive a wage boost after the Health Services Union (HSU) lodged an application for a 25 per cent across-the-board increase in 2020.

Personal carers will get an increase between 18 and 28 per cent, home-care staff will get a rise of between 15 and 26 per cent and there will be a 6.8 per cent increase for those involved in support services under the commission's decision, which was delivered on Friday.

The commission awarded an interim 15 per cent pay rise to direct-care employees at the end of 2022, with the industrial umpire saying this was plainly justified by work-value reasons.

Since then, the union has continued to push for a comprehensive increase for all staff.
HSU national president Gerard Hayes said it was a historic improvement for those working in the sector.

"Dignity comes to aged care, older people will not be treated as commodities," he said. "This decision will go a long way to ensure that people can age with dignity and people can care for people without going into poverty."

The federal government agreed to support the previous, 15 per cent increase for publicly funded facilities, and has backed the push for a further rise.

The commission's latest decision, which includes the earlier rise, will be finalised after submissions from the interested parties, with the phasing-in schedule still to be decided.

The 15 per cent increase kicked in at the start of the 2023/24 financial year.

The Australia Institute said the aged-care pay decision was a crucial call that would improve the lives of elderly Australians.

"For too long, aged-care work has been undervalued and low paid," policy director Fiona Macdonald said.

"The Fair Work Commission's decision to award additional pay rises, on top of an interim 15 per cent wage rise, is vital to fixing this."

Catholic Health Australia called on the government to fully fund the rise before the decision was handed down.

"We strongly support the claim to raise the wages of dedicated, compassionate and hardworking staff, especially as cost of living pressures mount," director Laura Haylen said.

"The federal government must deliver on its commitment to fully fund these wage rises as soon as possible, including any leave entitlements.

"We believe that we can work together to ensure staff are paid as quickly as possible without diverting existing funds from quality care and support."