Aged care workers win historic Fair Work case

4 minute read

The Health Services Union describes it as ‘one of the best outcomes this union has ever achieved’. See how much their wages will rise.

The Health Services Union’s historic Aged Care Work Value Case has won “significant” pay rises for aged care workers of up to 28%. 

The decision comes more than three years after the HSU filed a work value case with the Fair Work Commission, calling for a 25% increase in wages for all aged care employees. 

In 2022 the commission awarded an interim pay rise of 15% but the union ploughed on with its claim, saying wages still fell well short and did not address a critical shortage of aged care workers. 

Under the decision, handed down by the commission at 2pm today, direct care workers will see their hourly wage increase by 18-28%, inclusive of the previous award of 15%. Home care workers’ wages will rise by 15-26%. 

Support service workers, including cleaners, laundry staff and food service staff, will receive a 6.8% wage increase – a result HSU national president Gerard Hayes flagged as needing further discussion. 

Mr Hayes addressed HSU aged care delegates at their Sydney headquarters after the decision was released by the commission. 

“This is one of the best outcomes this union has ever achieved,” he said. 

Mr Hayes said the decision would mean that aged care could be competitive with the public healthcare system in terms of wages. 

“A lot of people want to work in aged care – they couldn’t afford to,” he said. 

“We will see a lot of people in aged care, particularly in regional NSW start to move out of hospitals and into aged care because they love the work, they do it because they care about people, they care about their community and now they will be able to afford to work there so that’s wonderful.” 

The decision is expected to affect more than 200,000 residential and home care workers. My Hayes said the decision would usher in a new era of decency and dignity in aged care facilities around the country. 

“Dignity comes to aged care. Older people will not be treated as commodities, they will be cared for in their older years,” he said. 

“We have an ageing population. This will go a long way to ensure that people can age with dignity and people can care for people without going into poverty. 

In the hours before the decision was handed down, Catholic Health Australia issued a statement saying it strongly supported HSU claim for all aged care workers, saying it would help alleviate cost of living pressures for direct and indirect workers, and improve the attractiveness of the sector which is facing a workforce shortage. 

“We strongly support the claim to raise the wages of dedicated, compassionate and hardworking staff, especially as cost-of-living pressures mount,” said Catholic Health Australia Aged Care director Laura Haylen. 

“The federal government must deliver on its commitment to fully fund these wage rises as soon as possible, including any leave entitlements. We believe that we can work together to ensure staff are paid as quickly as possible without diverting existing funds from quality care and support. 

“With most aged care providers already running at a loss, they cannot afford to absorb these extra costs without government funding.” 

Catholic Health Australia, which represents more than 350 not-for-profit residential aged care facilities, has long called for wage rises to help fix worsening staff shortages in aged care, including in a recent budget submission. 

“Right now we have 60,000 care and nursing vacancies and this is projected to hit 110,000 in six years’ time. The government must fix this nationwide shortage before it devastates the sector any further,” said Ms Haylen. 

The Fair Work Commission’s full decision can be found here. A summary is here

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