In November 2022, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) awarded an interim increase of 15 per cent to Aged Care Award and Nurses Award rates from 30 June 2023.
In May 2023, the Albanese Federal Government committed to fully fund the 15 per cent increase from 1 July 2023 (including on-costs). This is an $11.3 billion commitment over four years in the Commonwealth Budget – $7.6b directly for the wage increases and $2.5b for inflation, superannuation increases and ‘other costs’. The 24/7 nurse subsidy and increases to care minutes are funded separately.
The increase also applies to community aged care nurses and carers via the Social, Community, Housing and Disability Services or SCHaDS Award, but the Commonwealth funding mechanism is different and will be the subject of a separate communication. However, the methodology outlined below for the residential aged care increases (15 per cent of the Award increase added to your current hourly rate) applies equally in community aged care.
The aged care work value funding decision by FWC does not apply to the modern Awards that cover public sector residential aged care. Public sector nurses and carers are already receiving much higher rates of pay than private aged care.
Why is this happening?
ANMF, along with other unions involved in aged care, started this case in 2021 in response to Recommendation 84 of the Aged Care Royal Commission which found that the work of nurses and carers was under-valued and under-paid. The Royal Commission called on the unions to commence a case in the Fair Work Commission to vary the Award rates of pay to reflect the increased work value of aged care employees and to ensure equal remuneration for work of equal value (given that aged care work is performed by a predominantly female workforce and has been historically under-valued compared to comparable work in mainly male industries).
Why is it an ‘interim’ increase?
Because the work value case has not finished yet, and ANMF is seeking further increases in the case for nurses and carers. Stage 3 of the work value case will be conducted in late 2023 and early 2024. We should have a decision in the first half of next year and the Albanese Government has said they will then make a formal decision to fund that FWC outcome (just as they have done with the Stage 1 decision for direct-care workers).
Who does it apply to?
- Aged care workers employed as a registered nurse, enrolled nurse, personal care worker or leisure and lifestyle assistant.
- Private and not-for-profit aged care, but not public sector aged care.
- If you are a nurse, and employed in a position that requires you to be a nurse, it will apply to you regardless of your job title. You may, for example, be under a contract and not under the enterprise agreement. The increases should also apply to you.
I am on an EBA, not the Award. What applies to me?
Your employer will be funded by the taxpayer for the 15 per cent increase in Award rates, even if you are already paid above the Award via an EBA. ANMF is seeking that the additional funding from the taxpayer for improved wages is passed on to you – so 15 per cent of the Award rate applied to your current enterprise agreement rate. This won’t mean you get a 15 per cent increase of your EBA rate because your EBA rate is higher than the Award rate and the award dollar amount will be a slightly smaller percentage than 15 per cent when applied to your higher rate (see the examples below). If the Award rate becomes more that the EBA rate, the Fair Work Act says that you must be paid at least the Award rate.
How do I know if I am on an Award rate or EBA rate?
You can find the Award or EBA that applies to your workplace by logging in to your ANMF member portal page via members.anmfvic.asn.au, click on ‘My membership’ and then click on ‘EBAs and pay rates’. Please note that where an EBA expired some time ago your employer may have applied a further wage increase administratively.
I am starting work in a new aged care facility – will it apply to me?
Yes, in one way or another, it will apply to all private residential aged care facilities.
- If no EBA is in place, then the award applies and the 15 per cent increase applies.
- If an EBA is in place, then the funding supplied will enable the employer to pay the 15 per cent award hourly rate increase on top of your EBA hourly rate.
So, there is a 15 per cent wage increase for those paid Award rates, and a wage increase equivalent to that dollar amount for those under EBAs?
Yes. Here are two examples of how it works in practice:
I’m a PCW currently being paid $27.86 per hour. Does that mean that I’m getting the 15 per cent award increase?
Yes, your new rate should be $31.57 per hour. This equates to about 13.1 per cent increase on your current EBA rate.
- The legal minimum hourly rate as a Certificate III PCW (Level 4 of the Aged Care Award but Wage Skill Group 6 or PCW2 in most of our Victorian EBAs) will rise to $1082.00 per week or $28.47 per hour on 30 June 2023. That is the current Award rate of $940.90 or $24.76 per hour plus
15 per cent. Then on 1 July that will increase again because of the Fair Work Commission annual wage case, which will be applied to all Awards. That will be around 5 per cent (exact percentage not determined by FWC yet), so the Award rate from 1 July will be about $1136.10 per week or $29.90 per hour.
- However, your employer will be funded for the difference between the old Award rate, and the new Award rate – in this example, $141.10 per week or $3.71 per hour.
- Your new hourly rate (subject to ANMF ensuring your employer passes that funding on) would be $27.86 plus $3.71 – or $31.57 (the difference between $24.76 the old award rate and $28.47, the 30 June Award rate).
I am an RN Grade 2, base rate, top rate (Year 3 in some EBAs and year 9 in others) on $41.95 an hour. Will I get my rate increased and, if so, by how much?
Your new rate should be $46.81 per hour, which equates to an increase of about 11.15 per cent on your current EBA rate.
- The legal minimum hourly rate as a Level 1 Pay Point 8 and thereafter in the Nurses Award (Grade 2 Year 3 or Year 9 in our Victorian EBAs) increases from $1232.00 per week ($32.42 per hour) to $1416.80 per week or $37.28 per hour on 30 June 2023. That is the current Award rate of $32.42 plus 15 per cent. Then on 1 July that will increase again because of the Fair Work Commission annual wage case which will be applied to all Awards. That will be around 5 per cent (exact percentage not determined by FWC yet) so the Award rate from 1 July will be about $1487.64 per week or $39.15 per hour.
- However, your employer will be funded for the difference between the old Award rate, and the new Award rate – in this example $184.40 per week or $4.86 per hour.
- Your new hourly rate (subject to ANMF ensuring your employer passes that funding on) would be $41.95 plus $4.86 – so $46.81 (the difference between $32.42 and $27.28 added to your current rate of $41.95).
|Award classification||EBA classification||Amount per hour to be added to your current rate from 1/7/23|
|Carer and Lifestyle Assistants|
|PCW unqualified||Level 3||WSG 3/PCW1||$3.67|
|PCW Cert III||Level 4||WSG 6/PCW2||$3.71|
|PCW Cert IV||Level 5||WSG 8/PCW3||$3.84|
|EN 2 entry level Diploma||EN PP2||EN PP3||$3.83|
|EN PP3||EN PP4||$3.88|
|EN PP4||EN PP5||$3.94|
|EN PP5||EN PP6||$3.98|
|EN PP5||EN PP7||$3.98|
|EN PP5||EN PP8||$3.98|
|Registered Nurse Graduate
Year 1 (Grad Year)
|RN Level 1 PP 1||Grade 1||$4.05|
|Registered Nurse Clinical
Grade 2 (no managerial responsibility)
|RN Level 1 PP 3||Year 1 (old Grade 2 Year 2)||$4.23|
|RN Level 1 PP 7||Year 2 (old Grade 2 Year 6)||$4.74|
|RN Level 1 PP 8||Year 3 (old Grade 2 Year 9)||$4.86|
|Registered Nurse – Appointed
e.g. ANUM type role, unit leader etc
|RN Level 2 PP1||Grade 3A Year 1||$4.99|
|RN Level 2 PP2||Grade 3A Year 2||$5.07|
|RN Level 2 PP3||Grade 3B Year 1||$5.16|
|RN Level 2 PP4||Grade 3B Year 2||$5.25|
|Registered Nurse – NUM, Clinical Care
Coordinator, After Hours Coordinator
(50 beds or less)
|Grade 4A Year 1||$5.41|
|Grade 4A Year 2||$5.41|
|Grade 4B Year 1||$5.51|
|Grade 4B Year 2||$5.51|
|CCC and After-Hours Coordinator/
Night nurse in charge 51 beds and over
|Grade 5 13-50 beds||$5.61|
|Grade 5 51-200 beds||$5.70|
|Deputy Director of Nursing||Level 4 Year 1||Grade 6 13-50 beds||$6.18|
|Level 4 Year 2||Grade 6 51-100 beds||$6.62|
|Level 4 Year 3||Grade 6 51-101+ beds||$7.01|
|Director of Nursing||Level 4 Year 2||Grade 7 13-50 beds||$6.56|
|Level 4 Year 3||Grade 7 51-100 beds||$7.01|
|Level 4 Year 4||Grade 7 101-200 bed||$7.44|
|Level 4 Year 5||Grade 7 201+ beds||$8.21|
So, what hourly amount should be added to my current EBA classification rate?
The calculations above apply to all classifications. Find your classification and the exact hourly amount that should be added to your current EBA or contract rate is identified in the right-hand column. This information will match what will be provided to all aged care providers by the Department of Health. The government wants all aged care providers to use the Schedule above to implement the wage increases for all nurses, carers and lifestyle assistants.
Please note that the above table contains most Award (Nurses Award and Aged Care Award) and EBA classifications. Some EBAs also have slightly different classification structures. For example,
- The Grade 2 RN structure in many Agreements now only has three year levels compared to the previous nine years of experience – RN Grade 2 Year 1 (old RN Gr 2 Year 2), RN Grade 2 Year 2 (old RN Gr 2 Year 6) and RN Grade 2 |Year 3 (old RN Gr 2 Year 9).
- The PCW structures in some EBAs have the nauseous allowance rolled into the weekly/hourly rate and PCW rates are identified separately to the Wage Skill Group structure (and are identified as PCW1 (unqualified), PCW2 (Cert III qualified), PCW3 (Cert IV qualified) and PCW4 (PCW Coordinator). However, in most EBAs where the nauseous allowance is not rolled into the rate these different PCW classifications are at Wage Skill Groups 3, 6, 8 and 11 respectively.
What about the national wage increases in July?
The national wage increase applicable to all Awards from 1 July is only payable to those completely dependent on the Awards and without an EBA. This applies to very few aged care workers in Victoria. What is important to you is that you get the 15 per cent award increase applied to your current EBA rate (and that the employer is also committed to paying reasonable annual wage increases under the EBA into the future).
What about the wage increases already set out inour EBA? What will happen if we just got a new EBA in place?
Wage increases scheduled in existing EBAs should continue to be applied in addition to the 15 per cent Award work value increase. For example, if your EBA has a 2.5 per cent increase on 1 November 2023, then the 15 per cent Award increase should be applied to the current EBA rates from 1 July (in accordance with the Commonwealth Wages Schedule as reflected in the table above) and then the 2.5 per cent increase would occur as scheduled in the EBA.
The same would apply to a new EBA that has just been voted on.
Of course, this has to be agreed in discussions with your employer and then implemented. ANMF has asked all employers – whether they have an expired or current EBA – to meet with us to work through the implementation as quickly as possible from 22 May and before 1 July. Many have already made appointments and we will let members know as soon as we can about the position of their employer.
Who is going to check if organisations pass this on?
The Department of Health will be requiring all employers to report to them quarterly (by 30 September and 31 December) and to sign a legal attestation that they have passed on all of the work value money as higher wages. Completing an attestation incorrectly will be a criminal offence. Also, in January the government says they will name and shame any providers who have not passed on all of the money.
We will be advising the department and the Minister for Aged Care about any employer who is non-compliant. The department is setting up an industry reference committee to discuss non-compliant employers.
What if employers don’t pass on the full 15 per cent. What should we do?
You should contact the ANMF via our Member Assistance page (anmfvic.asn.au/memberassistance) or by contacting your Industrial Organiser via firstname.lastname@example.org (stating your member number, facility and employer). We encourage you to contact the ANMF asap if you are advised by your employer that they won’t pass it on.
Can the employer reduce the percentage to pay employees below the Schedule?
We are certain that some employers will try and pay less that the full 15 per cent of the Award increase on top of your current rate.
Some will do it because they are mean and want to use some of the money to boost their bottom line. Others may try it because they genuinely think they have not received enough money to cover on-costs, such as payroll tax or workers comp premium increases associated with the increases. Others will, for more legitimate reasons, want to slightly vary the way the funding is allocated across nurses, carers and lifestyle assistants. In all cases they should talk to the ANMF before they implement anything.
An employer is only obligated legally to pay what is in your enterprise agreement and, at all times, no less than the rates set out in the Nurses Award or Aged Care Award.
The requirement to pass on all of the Commonwealth funding as higher wage increases is a contractual requirement between the provider (your employer) and the Department of Health, rather than an enforceable industrial obligation to you or the ANMF. We want to change that by reflecting this 15 per cent increase in your EBA as soon as possible.
Of course, we say they have a moral obligation to pass on all of the funding and to do so in accordance with the Wages Schedule published by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
We are confident that most employers will do the right thing. However, for a small number enforcing the increases will be a challenge facing nurses and carers of that employer and the ANMF as your representative. As soon as you become aware that your employer is paying, or proposes to pay, less than the 15 per cent, please contact us via anmfvic.asn.au/memberassistance or email@example.com (stating your workplace and employer).
We will be doing everything to ensure they ‘pass it on’ from 1 July including:
- Organising protests at the facility or facilities
- Reporting them to the Department of Health and the Minster for Aged Care
- Reporting them to the peak provider body, ACCPA
- Embarrassing them by putting billboards outside their facilities
- Providing information to residents’ families
- Advertising in the local media and letterboxing neighbourhoods around the facility
Our manager had already declined to provide increases in accordance with the new funding. What should we do?
- contact the ANMF via anmfvic.asn.au/memberassistance or firstname.lastname@example.org (stating your workplace and employer) and give all relevant information
- arrange for your Industrial Organiser to convene a meeting at your workplace (although you could also do this yourself) and pass a resolution calling on your employer to:
- pass on all of the Commonwealth aged care work value funding in the form of higher wages in accordance with the Commonwealth Wages Schedule guidance from 1 July; and
- immediately enter discussions with your representative, the ANMF; and
- if there is not an agreement to pass the money on within seven days, staff will consider appropriate action including protests outside and talking to resident’s families about the employer’s position.
We have also been told that we already get higher than Award rates through the enterprise agreement – so there is no pay rise for us?
That is simply not true. The government and the health department have made it very clear that they have funded all providers in the same way through AN-ACC so that they can pass on the 15 per cent Award rise to all direct care staff regardless of what they are currently paid. Whether you are on the Award rates or paid 10 per cent, 20 per cent or 25 per cent above the Award through an EBA or a contractual arrangement, the employer has the funding to give each of you the same pay increase (as per the table and examples above).
How about the shift allowances and weekend penalties. Are they increased by the 15 per cent as well?
All wage-related penalties, loading and most allowances should also increase by the 15 per cent of the Award. This will happen automatically where allowances (like shift allowances, weekend penalties, leader allowance and qualifications allowances) are a percentage linked to a specified ‘allowance’ rate or your base rate of pay.
Some expense-related allowances like meal and travel allowances will not increase, other than to the extent already specified in your EBA.
If the employer is paying 5 per cent above the modern Award, are we still getting the 15 per cent? Or will it only be 10 per cent?
All employers have been funded so that they can pass on the full 15 per cent of the Award increase (which is not 15 per cent of your EBA rates but about 13.4 per cent for carers, 12.2 per cent for ENs and 11.1 per cent for RNs). The government expects every provider to pass on all of the extra funding and so should you. If they only passed on 10 per cent of it they would be pocketing the rest, which would be unacceptable.
Can the increase be received on the 1st of July? What will happen if the employer did not pay us on time? Will they be able to backpay us?
The employer will have the funding from 1 July so we would expect the increases to be paid from the first full pay period on or after 1 July. However, the money will in the usual payment cycle reach the employer in mid-August. Some employers may therefore choose to back pay the increase to 1 July once they have received the funding. Some larger employers will pay the increases from mid-July when it is due to avoid payroll system complications.
What will be the consequences if they don’t pay?
There will be a number of consequences. They will be named and shamed by the Federal Government. The government has also said they will amend the Aged Care Act to apply civil penalties where employers don’t pay. In addition, if they don’t attest accurately during mandatory quarterly reporting then that is a potential criminal offence.
From a union perspective, we will put resources into campaigning against any employer who does not pass the money on in full. This might include billboards outside facilities, advertising in newspapers and an information campaign with resident’s families. Further, as most enterprise agreements will be up for renegotiation in early 2024 there are options under the Fair Work Act, including protected industrial action and, ultimately, arbitration of the wages through an intractable bargaining determination (new power given to the Fair Work Commission in amendments to the Act).
How about RNs in support roles – quality support for example? But we are not on EBA and the company has put us under a corporate, not clinical, classification. Are we getting the increase?
Good question! The threshold issue is a) are you employed in a role that requires your nursing skills and qualifications? and b) would your underpinning Award be the Nurses Award 2020? If the answer to these questions is ‘Yes’, then we would say that you should be get the 15 per cent Award increase. After all, if they want nurses to do these corporate operational, education or quality roles then they need to pay competitive rates against the public and private acute sectors and the new aged care nurse rates.
The employers will be receiving the funding to cover an increase for you. Of course, because you are in the corporate area of head office the employer will often try to avoid paying the increase to you. We will be raising this issue with each provider. Where you don’t receive any increase you should contact the ANMF via email@example.com and state your employer name and work location.
If I’m an EEN but working as AN-ACC officer in a facility or head office, would this pay increase apply to me?
As above. If this is a nursing role, requiring you to use nursing skills and qualifications, then we would say it should receive the same increase as any other nurse.
What is the legality of an employer saying we will get an increase, but they will take away our Team Leaders allowance at the same time?
This depends on whether the payment of the Team Leader Allowance is genuinely required under the EBA. If they have paid it in the past simply as a pay incentive and regardless of whether you are fulfilling the requirements of the Team Leader clause, then they may be able to withdraw it (provided they have consulted and given adequate notice etc).
However, if you meet the criteria for the payment then it should remain payable to you. Clearly, the ANMF will not support the unilateral reduction of pay in response to the work value increases. However, we would need to assess the details and information around the payment on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone is entitled to a Team Leader Allowance and we will need to assess if you meet the requirements.
Is the wage increase funding sustainable or is it a one-off increase?
It is a one-off increase but we believe it is sustainable and for the long-term. The Commonwealth has provided funds in the Budget for the next four years and we expect this funding will be on-going. It would be a brave government that withdrew this funding – which is now required, in part, to meet the significantly increased Award rates of pay. Plus, the government knows that if they withdrew funding and wage rates dropped again, then employers would not be able to attract and retain skilled staff – nurses in particular.
However, funding is never completely guaranteed and this boost could be whittled away or absorbed over time. That it is why we need to put the new rates in your EBA – to make the new rates enforceable and ensure that they are not eaten away by an employer’s failure to make the usual annual wage increases on top of the 15 per cent work value increase.
How do we know if our employer has replied to the ANMF regarding their intention to implement the work value 15 per cent increase?
You should ask them directly. Let them know – either individually or as a group of staff – that you want a commitment from them to pass on all the Commonwealth funding from 1 July and in accordance with the Commonwealth Wages Schedule. Ask them if they have been in contact with your representative, the ANMF. If not, why not?
Let us know what they say via firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our part, we have written to every provider asking for a meeting. We will be following up with each of the 150 providers over the next month and monitoring their responses closely. We will be communicating with members about your employer’s response.