A new survey shows more than three quarters of residential aged care workers will receive July 1 pay rises that lift a full-time aged care worker’s wage between $9,700 and $10,600 a year above current award levels.
The substantial pay rises occur through the 15 per cent pay correction won in the union-led work-value case and the 5.75 per cent award-wage increase won through union submissions in the minimum wage case decision.
The two pay increases mean award-based aged care workers nominated as “direct care workers” will receive pay increases of more than 20 per cent on their current hourly rate.
The United Workers Union pay rate survey of more than 1800 residential aged care workers conducted this month showed Personal Care Workers and Assistants in Nursing, both set to receive the two pay increases, made up 80 per cent of respondents.
Almost all of these aged care workers (77 per cent of total respondents) reported they are on levels referring to award rates of between $22.67 and $24.76, translating to weekly pay rises of between $186 and $203 for award workers.
On an annual basis, these pay rises will translate to between $9700 and $10,600 extra for a full-time aged care worker on the aged care award, taking full-time pay to between $54,500 and $59,500.
A more meaningful figure is an annual pay rise of between $7600 and $8300 (or new annual pay of $43,000 to $47,000) based on the more likely assumption of an aged care worker on the award working 30 hours a week.
“What we are seeing on July 1 is a long overdue recognition that the work of aged care workers has been undervalued and underpaid,” United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today.
“The 15 per cent pay increase won in the work-value case brought by the Health Services Union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and United Workers Union gives these workers the respect they have deserved for so long.
“When aged care workers were working double shifts in sweltering heat at the height of the Omicron crisis in February last year, the whole aged care system was in crisis and 75 per cent of our members surveyed said they intended to leave the sector.
“It is to the great credit of the Albanese Labor Government that they have supported this pay rise in full, and they have made it very clear every provider is expected to pass on the full 15 per cent.
“When combined with the award-based increase occurring on July 1, many aged care workers will see a pay bump of around 20 per cent – a welcome respite from years of neglect.”
Ms Smith said that while the pay rises were welcome, aged care workers were unlikely to be troubling Australia’s Maserati showrooms.
“These changes take the most common level 4 aged care personal care worker working 30 hours a week to an annual salary of $47,000 – half the national average wage recorded by the ABS,” she said.
Ms Smith also said aged care support workers were in danger of being unfairly left behind, and called for catering, cleaning, laundry and maintenance workers to be awarded a pay rise when Stage 3 of the work value case was finally decided.
“Anyone who has walked into an aged care facility knows how vital support workers are in terms of providing quality care, and we expect the Fair Work Commission to reflect that in its decision,” Ms Smith said.
“A level 2 cleaner on the award can expect to see their wage increase by $1.36 an hour, or an extra $52 a week under the 5.75 per cent award-based increase.
“While that’s much better than what the bosses were asking for in the minimum wage case, the wages of these essential workers in aged care are not keeping up with inflation and these workers are falling further behind.”