Pay rise locked in as FWC rejects Labor plan

The Australian, 21 February 2023

Hundreds of thousands of aged care workers will receive their 15 per cent pay rise from July 1 this year after the Fair Work Commission rejected the Albanese government’s move to stagger the pay increases over two years.

In a ruling late Tuesday, the FWC also extended the 15 per cent pay increase to a range of aged care workers beyond the estimated 300,000 direct care staff to include head chefs and cooks, and leisure and lifestyle workers.

The ruling confirmed both direct care workers, and those in the other new categories were not being adequately compensated for the work undertaken.

The FWC also said the decision was interim only, and it was still considering union claims for a 25 per cent pay rise for all workers and for the increase to extend to other aged care workers in administrative and maintenance roles.

The ruling pointedly specified the full pay rise must “take effect from June 30, 2023.”

After last November’s FWC ruling of a 15 per cent pay increase for direct care staff, the government said it would fund the full pay increase, but in December submitted to the FWC that it would phase in the rise through a 10 per cent hike on July 1 this year and a further five per cent the following year.

Health Services Union national president Gerard Hayes said the FWC decision was “an important step forward.”

“To prevent aged care from collapsing every link in the chain must be strengthened. There’s no point lifting wages for direct care workers if large chunks of the workforce miss out.

“This decision will include more classifications, and we will continue to push to have the entire aged care workforce covered,” Mr Hayes said.