A survey of more than 1,000 United Workers Union (UWU) aged care members has found that 97% of staff are yet to receive the Morrison Government’s promised bonus payment of up to $800.
The Government announced the program at the start of February, outlining how aged care workers including nurses, personal care workers, cleaners and home care workers would receive two instalments of up to $400 each depending on where they work and the amount of hours they work each week.
Providers were required to apply for the bonus payment on behalf of workers, with the application process opening on 1 March. Payments to workers must be made within two pay cycles from when the employer receives the funds, however, the government encouraged employers to pay the bonus to their staff at the time they lodge applications.
According to the UWU survey, many aged care workers have been left angry at the failure of the program to quickly hand out the bonuses, with payments, which are also taxed, stalled by a lengthy bureaucratic process.
“Whilst the bonus is appreciated it seems more like the government just want us to be quiet about the stress we face daily as carers, the lack of staff to residents and our pathetic pay rates,” one SA aged care worker said.
“Bonus payments are great but it’s not a fix to the problems we face in our job. We need better staff to resident ratio. [A] pay rise would be nice too,” said a Queensland aged care worker.
UWU National Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said the federal government’s aged care bonus payment had angered many workers instead of giving them the timely reward they deserve for working through the pandemic.
“More than 900 older Australians have died from Covid in aged care facilities this year,” Ms Smith pointed out.
“Yet more than seven weeks since the $800 bonus program was announced and more than three weeks since it was launched, 97% of aged care workers say they have no bonus.”
In a further indication of the repeated failures aged care workers have had to endure from employers and the government during the pandemic, Ms Smith said 77% of aged care workers surveyed said that hadn’t received any information at all about the bonus.
“Aged care workers were failed in the vaccination program, they were failed with PPE, they were left to fend for themselves during Omicron working repeated double shifts – and now they have been failed in the bonus program,” she said.
“Aged care workers haven’t been fooled – this bonus doesn’t even touch the sides on the chronic understaffing, the outrageous workloads and the lack of time to care that existed even before COVID.”
UWU aged care members are currently considering steps towards taking protected strike action for better pay and more time to care.