ANMF has applied for a 25 per cent wage increase for aged care registered and enrolled nurses, and personal care workers.
On 17 May, the ANMF made an application at the Fair Work Commission seeking the increase under the Nurses Award for nurses and assistants in nursing and the Aged Care Award for personal care workers.
If successful, the wage increase would apply Australia-wide.
ANMF contends that pay rates under the awards 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 was recognised by Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO, who recommended that a work value and equal remuneration case be brought before the Fair Work Commission.
In their final report, the commissioners acknowledged the wages gap between aged care workers and their equivalents in the acute health sector.
Given the evidence provided at the royal commission about personal care work and nursing in aged care, an across-the-board increase in the minimum pay rates under applicable awards would be justified under the Fair Work Act 2009, the commissioners said.
What the hourly rate increase would mean for personal care workers
Currently a personal care worker 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 personal care worker gains experience rapidly on the job and should progress to the next pay point after six months, rather than the current 12 months.
What the hourly rate increase would mean for enrolled and registered nurses
The hourly rate for an enrolled nurse at the top of the scale would increase from $24.73 an hour to $30.93. For a registered nurse Level 1 pay point 8 the base rate would go from $30.23 to $37.80 an hour.
If you are covered by an enterprise agreement, you cannot be paid less than the award rate
Many employees in aged care are covered by enterprise agreements rather than awards. While this application relates to award rates, the award sets minimum safety net rates. Therefore, nurses and personal care workers covered by enterprise agreements cannot be paid less than award rates. If successful, the application to increase award wages would also benefit nurses and personal care workers covered by enterprise agreements by setting a higher pay benchmark for enterprise agreement negotiations.
In making the application ANMF acknowledges that the work of nurses and care workers in other health settings is also undervalued. This application is the first step to improving wages for all our members.