Should workers in aged care be paid more?
AGED care workers could be in for a significant pay boost if a union-backed case for a 25 per cent pay rise succeeds.
The Health Services Union, which represents workers in the sector, today launched a ‘work value’ case in the Fair Work Commission to lift wages in the sector by altering the award.
The award refers to a document outlining the minimum pay rates and employment conditions in a particular industry.
The HSU says if the case succeeds, more than 200,000 personal carers, activities officers, catering, cleaning, and administration workers would see their pay rise by at least five dollars an hour.
For a qualified personal carer that would mean a rise from $23.09 to $28.86 per hour.
HSU secretary, Gerard Hayes, said increasing pay is an “issue of justice” which would also effect the sustainability of a system facing a “workforce crisis” without a significant pay rise.
“Aged care in this country has relied for too long on the goodwill of an underpaid and insecure workforce of women. It’s time for change,” he said.
“Four in ten aged care workers intend to leave the sector within the next five years, because they are at breaking point.
“Aged care workers are skilled. They provide care and support to our most vulnerable, to residents enduring episodes of sadness and at times anger. They should be recognised and paid for their skills.”
The sector has long struggled with staff attraction and retention, with the Royal Commission into Aged Care recently confirmed.
The Commission’s Interim Report noted the wages and condition of the sector “in many ways … reflects the community’s attitudes towards older people and ageing” and workforce issues affected “every aspect” of their inquiry into the system.
“Given the low pay and limited career opportunities available, it is not surprising that staff leave the sector because of dissatisfaction with remuneration, income insecurity, and excessive and stressful work demands,” the report stated.
“Aged care workers are consistently less well remunerated than their counterparts in related
“Similarly, nurses employed in aged care have less attractive conditions and fewer
career opportunities compared with those in other sectors.”
The call to increase the award comes as the existing Coffs/Clarence population ages, while the proliferation of retirement living in coastal regions continues to attract retirees.
Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast estimates 8 per cent of the workforce is now made up of people in aged care and social assistance, with jobs growing by 18.9 per cent a year.
However, the number of residential aged care places as a proportion of the aged population has actually dropped from 2014 to 2018 according to data released by the Federal Government.
In the Far North Coast region, the number of residential aged care places per 1000 people aged over 70 dropped from 87 to 76.3 and in the Mid North Coast it fell from 83.2 to 74.3.