Wage increases for aged care workers on the way!

Direct care workers in the aged care industry have scored wage increases of up to 28.5% after the Fair Work Commission (Commission) handed down its final decision in the three stage Aged Care Industry Work Value Case.

The Aged Care Work Value Case arose from applications to vary the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award, the Nurses Award, and the Aged Care Award (together, the Awards) with the intention of securing wage increases to rectify the historical undervaluation of aged care work.

The Stage 1 and 2 decisions of the proceedings implemented an interim wage increase of 15% for direct care workers (such as personal care workers, assistants in nursing and home care workers), having regard to findings concerning changes in the work of direct care employees in aged care represent a fundamental change in the work value.

The Stage 3 decision focused on whether any further wage adjustments are justified on work value grounds for direct care employees.

Ultimately, the Commission decided that there were “work value reasons’ for the minimum award rates of pay for such employees to be increased substantially beyond the 15 per cent interim increase determined in the Stage 1 decision.” These reasons included the fact that award rates of pay for personal care workers, home care workers and assistants in nursing had never been the subject of a work value assessment and thus, “invisible skills”  (such as interpersonal and contextual awareness, verbal and non-verbal communication, and emotion management) of associated with that work had not been taken into account in setting rates of pay, the historic gender based undervaluation of nursing work and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (and associated increased implementation of infection control and prevention measures in aged care workplaces), staff shortages and work intensification.

In short, the decision establishes a new classification structure under the Awards for personal care workers, nurses and home care workers and associated wage increases ranging from 13.3% (for employees currently classified as Level 5 Home Care Workers under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award) to 28.5% (for employees currently classified as Level 5 personal care workers under the Aged Care Award). The increases are inclusive of the 15% interim increase.

Without diminishing the value of “indirect care” employees, such as general, administrative and food service workers, the Commission noted that such workers do not perform work of equivalent value to direct care workers justifying equal rates of pay, and accordingly, concluded that rates of pay for indirect care workers under the Aged Care Award should be increased by 3%.

The operative date for these changes has not yet been decided, with the Commission setting out a timetable for determining these matters.

A summary of the decision can be found here.


Katie Sweatman
+61 3 9958 9605
[email protected]
Beth Silverman
+61 3 9958 9603
[email protected]