Australian aged care workers will receive a 15 per cent pay rise, with the possibility of a further boost in the future, following a decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
In its interim decision, Fair Work said the increase was “plainly justified” and said “existing minimum rates do not properly compensate employees for the value of the work performed”.
The FWC said it also recognised that aged care work had been “historically undervalued and the reason for that undervaluation is likely to be gender-based”.
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The increase will apply to around 300,000 direct aged care workers, including nurses, personal care workers and assistant in nursing (AIN) workers. There is no set date for when the pay rise will hit worker’s pay packets, with the timing set to be discussed later this month.
Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said the pay rise was “desperately needed”.
“A 15 per cent interim pay rise is a really strong first step in the fight to get aged care workers paid and valued in the way that they so thoroughly deserve,” Wells said.
The long-awaited decision comes more than 18 months after the royal commission recommended an increase to wages.
More pay rises to come
The commission also left open the possibility of further increases. Unions had pushed for a 25 per cent pay increase.
“We wish to make it clear that this does not conclude our consideration of the unions’ claim for a 25 per cent increase for other employees, namely administrative and support aged care employees,” FWC said.
The Health Services Union welcomed the pay rise, but said larger and broader increases were needed to stem the aged care crisis.
“This is a reasonable start but we need the commission to go further and permanently end the poverty wage settings that dominate aged care,” HSU national president Gerard Hayes said.
“Fifteen per cent is a down payment but nobody should be mistaken. This will not fix the crisis.”
The commission will be taking further submissions before handing down stages two and three of its decision.