The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has asked the Federal Government how much it will contribute to a 25% pay claim by aged care workers’ unions.
The FWC said the Government “presently bears the primary burden of funding aged care”.
“Wages and wage growth are by far the most significant drivers of input costs for approved providers of residential care,” said the FWC.
“The commonwealth’s indexation of funding levels for aged care services has not, to date, kept up with input costs for aged care providers, including wages,” it added. “The way the commonwealth funds the aged care sector directly affects how employers negotiate pay and conditions.”
Australia’s largest union, the Nursing and Midwifery Federation, and the Health Services Union are bringing a wage claim to the Fair Work Commission, which sets industries’ minimum pay rates.
The FWC put a series of questions to the Federal Government, including what percentage of the increase would be covered by existing funding commitments and if the Government would commit to provide sufficient funding to meet the wage rise decided by the FWC.
The FWC agreed for the Federal Government’s response to be available by 23 July, although the Government’s lawyers said some of the information sought might be unavailable or subject to cabinet confidentiality.
If the 25% pay claim is successful, personal carers in nursing homes would see their minimum wage rise by about $5 an hour, from $23.09 to $28.86 on wage rates when the application was lodged.
Home care workers and registered nurses in aged care facilities are also in line for the pay rise if the case is successful, though it could also only be granted in part.
While this all sounds positive and constructive, the final hearings by the FWC are scheduled in 12 months’ time with a decision due after that.
Meanwhile the sector battles to attract and retain its workforce.