MEDIA RELEASE The tax backflip on the aged care retention bonus from Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck is a broken promise to residential aged care and home care workers across Australia.
On 20 March the Minister spruiked his COVID-19 ‘retention bonus’ as being $800 after tax per quarter – paid for two quarters for direct care workers and $600 after tax per quarter, for two quarters, for those who provide care in the home.
The mean and tricky backflip to workers on the frontline of the COVID crisis has been shamelessly announced on the eve of a public holiday in most states.
In a further disappointment for aged care workers, the Minister has also not backed down on the divisive elements in the scheme.
The Minister has not backed down on the payment being pro-rated, failing to take into account that this is a part-time workforce – full-time direct care and home care jobs are uncommon.
They have also not fixed the divisive elements of the payment, with workers across the sector offered differing amounts – $800 for residential workers and $600 for home care workers. The Government has not backed down on the exclusion of 30% of residential workers. Aged care workers are part of a team involved in caring for their residents, other crucial aged care roles including cleaning and catering still miss out.
After the tax backflip and part-time hours are taken into account, workers will be receiving hundreds of dollars less than the $800 and $600 touted to the media.
Carolyn Smith, aged care director for United Workers Union says, “The tax back flip has revealed the retention bonus to be too unfair, too little and too late for our aged care workforce.
“The devil is in the detail, and the detail of has revealed a mean, tricky and divisive scheme which is an insult to hard working aged care staff. The Government misled workers to think they’d finally have their hard work recognised with the retention bonus, but they’ll be receiving hundreds of dollars less because the Government misled them on tax – and they do not understand the workforce and the part-time nature of aged care work.
“Workers are hugely disappointed now that they have seen the details and feel like they’ve been tricked on tax being removed. Aged care workers have been understaffed, overstretched and underpaid for years. When the retention bonus was announced workers finally felt like they were getting some recognition for their hard work.
“As sold to the workforce the original intention was that the bonus was to retain staff in the sector at this crucial time and to recognise the hard work aged care workers have been doing on the frontline. But roles including admin staff, cooks, cleaners and facility managers are excluded, leading to division across a facility.
“All workers in the sector have been on the frontline caring for our elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Morrison Government to say that the work of home care workers is worth less at this time is astounding.
“The implementation details also reveal it is a long way off reaching our members. If workers are eligible for the bonus, the payment schedule reveals they are unlikely to receive the first payment until late in July.
“The Government must do better for this workforce.”