ANMF applies for a 25% wage increase for Registered and Enrolled nurses and Personal Care Workers in the Aged Care Sector in Australia.
On 17 May 2021, the ANMF made an application at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) seeking a 25% increase to wages under the Nurses Award for Nursing Assistants, ENs and RNs working in residential and home based aged care. The application also seeks variation to the Aged Care Award asking for the same 25% to be applied to the wages of Personal Care Workers (PCWs).
The ANMF has made this application on the basis that the work of staff delivering aged care has long been recognised as undervalued. We say that the award rates of pay do not adequately reflect the skill, responsibility and complexity of the work required to deliver safe and quality care to older people, whether in residential aged care settings or in their own homes.
This undervaluation was recognised in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Commissioners went so far as to recommend that proceedings be commenced at Fair Work Commission to rectify the problem of low wages in the aged care sector.
What the hourly rate increase will mean for Assistants in Nursing and Personal Care Workers (Personal Care Assistants)
PCWs and AINs under both awards are paid at almost identical rates. Currently a PCW or AIN with a Certificate III qualification receives $877 under the award. The ANMF application asks that this be increased to $1097 a week or $28.86 an hour. The application also seeks to recognise that an entry level PCW or AIN gains experience rapidly on the job and should progress to the next pay point after 6 months, rather than the current 12 months.
How the hourly rate increase will apply to ENs and RNs
The hourly rate for an EN at the top of the scale will increase from $24.73 an hour to $30.93. For an RN Level 1 pay point 8 the base rate will go from $30.23 to $37.80 an hour.
If you are covered by and enterprise agreement, you cannot be paid less than the award rate
Of course, many employees in aged care are covered by enterprise agreements. While this application relates to award rates, it’s important to remember that the award sets minimum safety net rates. You can’t be paid less than award rates. And when your next agreement is up for negotiation, it must result in you being better off than you would be under the award. So this application will benefit all ANMF members working in aged care.
We know the work of our members is undervalued and underpaid – it’s time to change this
The ANMF acknowledges that the work of nurses and care workers in other health settings is also undervalued, in large part because of gender based assumptions about caring work. The ANMF brings this application on behalf of workers in the aged care sector as the first step to improving wages for all our members.
We look forward to your support as we progress this very important application to ensure nurses and care workers in aged care receive the recognition they deserve.
Authorised by A. Butler, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Melbourne.