Big rise for key workers

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has awarded aged care workers a wage increase of up to 28.5 per cent. 

The decision concludes a protracted battle spearheaded by the Health Services Union (HSU) for fair compensation.

The HSU lodged the work value case with the FWC in November 2020, advocating for a 25 per cent wage hike across the board. 

The union highlighted the underestimation of the sector's work, attributing it to the workforce's predominantly female composition and the escalating complexity of care required.

The union says the FWC's verdict underscores the historical undervaluation of aged care work due to gender biases. 

Direct care employees are set to see their hourly wages rise between 18 and 28 per cent, encompassing the previously awarded 15 per cent interim boost. 

Support service workers, including laundry, cleaning, and food service staff, will benefit from a 6.8 per cent wage increase due to wage adjustments and reclassification efforts.

Gerard Hayes, the HSU national president, hailed the decision as a monumental improvement.

“For the last decade aged care has been held together by the goodwill and commitment of a severely underpaid, insecurely employed workforce. Today those workers have won wage justice,” he said. 

The decision stands to affect over 200,000 workers in residential and home care services. It aligns with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which called for better compensation to address staff shortages, neglect, and abuse in the sector. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the wage increase is needed to retain staff and ensure the dignity of Australia's elderly population.

“It is vital that our older Australians get dignity and respect in the later years,” he said. 

“The workers who look after them deserve respect as well and they deserve better pay.”

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