Work Value Case
We take action to improve the chronic undervaluation of aged care nurses and carers
Update on the Work Value Case - February 2023
Aged Care Work Value Case – a big win to increase award wages – ANMF will be working to ensure the final outcome for all aged care workers is higher wages.
In November 2022, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) resolved that direct care aged care workers deserved an increase to their award wage as their work had long been undervalued. The Full Bench interim decision was to increase award rates for direct care workers by 15%.
The Fair Work Commission decided on 21 February 2023 that minimum rates under the award, for many, but not all, aged care workers would increase by 15% on 30 June 2023.
Workers covered by the decision are:
- AINs, ENs and RNs working in aged care, under the Nurses Award,
- PCWs covered by the Aged Care Award
- The most senior chef or cook covered by the Aged Care Award
- Recreation and lifestyle officers covered by the Aged Care Award
- Home care workers in aged care covered by the SCHADS Award.
This outcome represents a significant achievement to improving the wages of aged care workers, which have for too long been set at rates that do not reflect the true value of their work. However, much needs to be done to ensure all aged care workers receive full recognition for their complex and demanding work in aged care.
In the coming months, unions will continue to argue for increases to be extended to all aged care workers, such as gardeners, cleaners and administrative staff. In addition, we will argue that while 15% is a great start, the final outcome for all aged care workers must be higher.
ANMF is fighting for the full amount of the wage increase to go into the pockets of aged care workers, including workers covered by enterprise agreements who rely on the wage rates set in agreements rather than minimum award wages. We will advocate that workers on enterprise agreements whose wages are higher than the award must also receive a wage increase.
It is important to remember that award rates are the minimum safety net rates and no one can be paid less than this rate. If you are paid above award rates, your provider will still receive additional wage funding, and the ANMF believes that the providers must flow this onto workers, and not keep any additional funding.
We look forward to seeing increased wages benefiting members in the second half of the year- the ANMF will be monitoring the implementation process carefully to ensure no one misses out on this big pay rise!
Further updates to come.
Update on the Work Value Case - June 2022
The Aged Care Work Value case commenced hearing on 26 April 2022 and ran over thirteen days, concluding on 12 May. Over that time, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission, comprising the President of the Commission, His Honour Justice Ross, Deputy President Asbury and Commissioner O’Neill heard evidence from expert witnesses, union officials from the ANMF and HSU, together with witnesses representing the interests of the employer groups. Commissioner O’Neill heard evidence from 73 members from the ANMF, HSU and UWU, all working in the aged care sector, including nurse practitioners, RNs, ENs, AINs and personal care workers from both residential and home aged care.
The Parties gave brief opening submissions in the morning before the Full Bench comprising President Ross, Deputy President Asbury and Commissioner O’Neill. Union officials from the HSU gave evidence in the afternoon.
On 27 April site visits took place in Sydney attended by DP Asbury. We visited HammondCare in Hammondville, RFBI Concord Community Village and Uniting Westmead. On 28 April, Commissioner O’Neill attended sites in Melbourne, TLC Clifton Views, Fronditha Thornbury and St Pauls Aged Care, also in Thornbury. Both days of visits showed a variety of settings and allowed members of the Full Bench to talk informally with members and managers about the operation and day to day work of residential aged care and home care.
The next eight and a half days of hearing were devoted to cross examination of the Applicants witnesses, moving between the Full Bench and O’Neill sitting alone. A small number of witnesses were not required for cross-examination, however, notice was very short, so we were required to have all witnesses scheduled to be available. ANMF officials, Annie Butler, Julianne Bryce, Rob Bonner, Kathy Chrisfield, Paul Gilbert and Andrew Venosta were required for cross-examination. All ANMF witnesses who attended the hearing to give evidence did a brilliant job and responded extremely well in cross-examination. We are very grateful for all members’ time and effort in preparing statements and for attending the hearing.
The last day and half of the hearing was for cross-examination of the employer witnesses. On the whole, the employer witnesses made concessions that were helpful to the union application.
After the hearing concluded, the Commonwealth, under the auspices of the new Government, requested time to file a submission and to appear at the final oral hearings. To allow the Commonwealth time to prepare submissions, the original dates for closing submissions has been extended.
The timeframe for the unions to file closing submissions has been extended to 22 July and the final oral hearing has been listed between 24 - 25 August, and 1-2 September 2022. The extension of time also allows the parties to consider and comment on a series of Background Papers prepared by FWC, which summarise the evidence, award history and the positions of the parties.
Introduction to the Work Value Case
In May 2021, the ANMF made an application to vary the Aged Care Award and the Nurses Award with respect to nurses and personal carers working in aged care. This application was made to give effect to Recommendation 84 of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Final Report: Care, Dignity and Respect.
Recommendation 84, titled “Increases in award wages”, provides that employee organisations entitled to represent the industrial interests of aged care employees should collaborate with the Australian Government and employers and apply to vary wage rates in awards including the Aged Care Award and the Nurses Award.
The ANMF seeks flat, across-the-board, increases of 25 per cent to minimum rates to recognise the chronic undervaluation of all relevant aged care employees.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has a dedicated page for the Work Value case where you can find out more.