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‘Grossly inadequate’: ANMF calls for aged care pay rises not bonuses

‘Grossly inadequate’: ANMF calls for aged care pay rises not bonuses

Pandemic bonuses will not address the dire consequences of extreme understaffing and low wages in private residential aged care.

The aged care royal commission found understaffing and an undervalued workforce paid poor wages were significant factors ‘compromising the care of residents despite the best intentions’.

ANMF continues to advocate for a per shift COVID surge allowance for private aged care workers and a respectful pay increase that values their important work.

Instead the Morrison Government has paid or announced a series of one-off bonuses costing $393 million. The latest $800 bonus was announced on 1 February.

Federal ANMF joined with other unions and employer groups condemning the bonus as ‘grossly inadequate’.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Assistant Secretary Paul Gilbert said ‘Aged care nurses and personal care workers need secure permanent full- and part-time work and pay rises that shows we value the work of caring for elderly, vulnerable Australians.

‘The Morrison Government has ignored the royal commission’s pay rise recommendation and insulted a burnt out workforce in crisis with paltry bonuses.

‘Private aged care needs urgent structural wage reform so it can recruit and retain a workforce that feels valued and has the time to provide safe, dignified care for residents,’ Mr Gilbert said.


What are the aged care bonuses?

$800 aged care workforce bonus

On 1 February 2022, Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt announced a bonus up to $800, in two instalments, for aged care workers.

Mr Hunt said the payments would be made to ‘clinical care workers’ and ‘expanded to all those providing direct care, food or cleaning services’ in government subsidised residential care.

The first instalment up to $400 will be paid to aged care workers employed on 28 February 2022 and the second up to $400 will be paid to those employed on 28 April 2022.

Employers will be able to apply from 1 March 2022 on behalf of eligible workers and will then pay the bonus to those workers. Employers are “encouraged” to pay the bonus at the time they lodge the application.

ANMF understands this would apply to aged care staff in private and public state-run residential aged care.

Aged care providers must apply for the payments on behalf of their staff.

Registered nurse payment

The Morrison Government announced a one-off COVID registered nurse payment bonus in the May 2021 budget. The payment is only for registered nurses, not enrolled nurses. (ANMF continues to campaign for a fair pay rise for all nurses and carers instead of bonuses.)

A $3700 bonus will be paid to full-time aged care registered nurses and a $2700 bonus to part-time and casual nurses.

Registered nurses who work for the same private or public state-run aged care providers for 12 months, between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022, are eligible for the registered nurse payment.

A second payment is available for eligible nurses who work for the same provider for 12 months between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023.

Two additional annual payments of up to $2,300 are available for registered nurses who work in a rural or remote area, have a postgraduate qualification and take on leadership and training responsibilities in their workplace.

Aged care providers must apply for the payments on behalf of their staff.

The payments are considered taxable income.

Aged care workforce retention bonus payment

The Morrison Government made three aged care workforce retention payments – in July, September and November 2020 of up to $800 – to registered and enrolled nurses and personal care workers. The payments were considered taxable income.