Landmark applications by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the Health Services Union (HSU) to lift the wages of aged care workers by 25% commenced in the Fair Work Commission this morning.
The ANMF is requesting the 25% increase on the basis that the work of aged care workers has never been properly valued, and are in fact undervalued. The union is arguing that paying aged care staff wages that genuinely reflect the value of their work, together with mandated safe staffing and 24/7 registered nurses on-site, will ensure more people want to work in the sector.
A recent poll conducted by the ANMF of more than 3,000 of its members revealed they would work in the sector if there were a registered nurse on-site 24/7 in nursing homes, guaranteed minimum staffing levels and fair wages that reflect the complex nature of the work required in aged care.
The survey found:
- Almost 80% of members said they would work in the sector if minimum staffing levels and skills mix were guaranteed
- More than 70% would work in the sector if there was a requirement of at least one RN on-site at all times
- 50% would work in the sector if there was a 25% pay increase
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the results confirmed the union’s previous experiences across the country – that once workloads are made safe, and nurses’ work is recognised through decent wages and support for them to provide quality care, they will return to the jobs they love.
She said the results also show that nurses could be recruited to work, and remain in, the aged care industry if the Morrison Government acted and implemented key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
“There are many aged care nurses, who have left the aged care sector because the crisis has simply become too much to bear, but who have told us that they would return to aged care if there were safe workloads, decent wages and support for them to provide quality care. And, many more will be attracted to start work in the sector if there are reasonable conditions and competitive pay rates,” Ms Butler said.
Three applications are seeking to increase wages by 25% for aged care workers, covered by the three aged care related awards, including the Nurses Award.
The applications are calling for a 25% wage increase for:
- AINs, ENs, RNs and NPs working under the Nurses Award who work in aged care
- PCWs, general and administrative service employees and food services employees under the Aged Care Award
- Home care workers in aged care under the Social, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award
The applications are also seeking to improve career progression for AINs and PCWs and implement improved career pathways for PCWs by giving greater recognition to their experience and qualifications.
“Current award rates simply don’t reflect the value of the work in aged care or how the nature of the work has changed and become more complex, requiring greater skill and responsibility under more difficult conditions,” Ms Butler said.
“It’s no coincidence that this work, predominantly done by women, has been historically undervalued. It’s time for this to change. We are therefore asking the FWC to assess its true value, and the knowledge and skills it requires, and find that a 25% wage increase is justified.
“With fair wages in place, and guaranteed minimum staffing ratios with 24 hour registered nurse presence, we can fix the aged care crisis.”
Find out more about the Aged Care Work Value Case here