On 1 February 2022, the Federal Government announced aged care workers would be eligible to receive a bonus payment of up to $800.
In a statement, the government said the bonus payment would be paid in two instalments, of up to $400 each, to care and support workers in home care and to direct care workers, food preparation workers and cleaners in residential aged care.
The bonus payment will be payable to workers employed on 28 February and 28 April. Aged care workers will receive varying bonuses depending on what setting they work in, and the amount of hours they work each week.
Here’s what you need to know about the process:
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Australian Government funded approved residential aged care providers, home care package providers, state/local government residential aged care and/or home package providers, and providers delivering aged care under the Commonwealth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program are eligible to apply for the payments on behalf of their staff.
Individual aged care workers, other than those self-employed, cannot apply for bonuses themselves.
Providers are required to apply for the grant funds on behalf of their workers, with the following workers eligible:
- Residential aged care workers, including clinical and personal care workers, allied health workers, food services and cleaning services
- Home care workers delivering home care under an approved home care package, including clinical support, personal care, cleaning and support with household tasks, meal preparation, social support, shopping services, community access, transport, allied health and respite services.
HOW MUCH IS THE BONUS PAYMENT?
The bonus amount depends on whether aged care workers work in home care or residential care and will be prorated based on the highest number of hours worked in a single week out of the four weeks leading up to the census dates.
Workers may qualify for either one, or both instalments.
HOW TO APPLY
Aged care providers must apply for the bonus payment on behalf of their staff.
Eligible employers were able to apply from 1 March 2022. Once an employer submits the application, the department processes/assesses the request for funding.
Subject to approval, the department then sends an agreement to the grant recipient, which needs to be signed and returned. Once the signed agreement is received, the department will release the first payment.
Funds will be distributed to providers, who will then make payments to eligible employees.
Applications for the aged care bonus payment close at 2pm on 15 April 2022.
When the bonus payments were announced on 1 February 2022, the ANMF released a joint statement with other unions, the ACTU, HSU, UWU, AWU, and employer peaks, arguing the payments do not adequately address the crisis in the sector.
“The recent announcement of two pro rata payments of up to $400 is grossly inadequate and it remains to be seen how this short-term payment will prevent a feared exodus of staff from the frontline,” the statement read.
WHEN WILL I RECEIVE MY BONUS PAYMENT?
Many aged care workers have already voiced their frustrations, via social media, about when they will receive their promised bonus.
The payment to workers must be made within two pay cycles from when the employer received the funds. However, the government is encouraging employees to pay the bonus at the time they lodge their application.
A second payment equal to the first payment will automatically be made to providers/agencies in May 2022.
WHAT IF I DON’T RECEIVE MY BONUS PAYMENT?
If aged care workers have not received a payment, and believe they should have, the government advises that, in the first instance, they should talk to their employer to resolve the matter.
Writing an email or letter to employers to explain the problem is often the best course of action, and provides a written record, they suggest
If aged care workers feel they cannot talk to their employer about the issue, the government says they can fill out an enquiry form with the department, providing additional supporting material such as pay slips.
If they can help, they will contact the employer on aged care workers’ behalf to investigate the situation.
Aged care workers can send the completed enquiry form to: ACWRP.firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW WILL PAYMENTS BE MONITORED
The government says the grants program will be subject to an active audit program involving a combination of random and targeted audits.
Targeted audits will be based on analysis of complaints or feedback, examination of data held by the department, cross-referenced with application data, and any other information or anomalies that emerge, to ensure workers receive their entitled payment.
Read the Australian Government Department of Health’s Frequently Asked Questions on the Aged Care Workforce Bonus Payment here