ECEC wage negotiations boosted by 23% aged care pay
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > ECEC wage negotiations boosted by 23% aged care pay increase decision from Fair Work

ECEC wage negotiations boosted by 23% aged care pay increase decision from Fair Work

by Jason Roberts

March 16, 2024
23% aged care pay increase

Advocates involved in negotiations to secure a funded pay increase for early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals have received a substantial boost after the Fair Work Commission agreed to a further rise in aged care worker Modern Award rates


The decision, which was the culmination of the third and final stage of deliberations, will see the Modern Award wages of Aged Care workers rise a further eight per cent above the interim increase of fifteen per cent that came into effect on 1 July 2023, taking the total to 23 per cent.


Certificate III qualified personal care workers, nursing assistants and home care workers will see their Award benchmark pay rise to $1223.90 per week with a new classification structure referred to as the “direct care stream,” differentiating between role type, experience and qualification levels. 


The decision will be seen as a significant win for the Health Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation who lodged the initial applications seeking a variation to Award pay rates for their members. 


Federal Government commits to funding Aged Care pay increases 


In a separate announcement the Federal Government confirmed that they stood by their commitment to fund any increases agreed by the Fair Work Commission, and in so doing ring fence consumers of aged care from paying higher fees to access services. 


“We have committed to provide funding to support increases to award wages made by the Fair Work Commission in this matter and that will help deliver a higher standard of care for older Australians,” Ministers Tony Burke, Mark Butler and Anika Wells said


“The Government has already delivered a 15 per cent pay increase for aged care workers on a number of awards following an interim Commission decision in November 2022” with around $11.3 billion over four years allocated in the 2023 Budget to fund the increase.


At this juncture the timing of the latest round of increases has not yet been finalised but will be announced in due course.


Timing of increase announcement bodes well for ECEC wage increase negotiators 


Meanwhile, efforts to secure a funded increase in wages for ECEC educators continue with employer, employee and Government representatives working towards securing a consensus that would see a new dedicated enterprise agreement created in which improvements in pay and conditions would be captured.


Negotiators will welcome the opportunity to use the new Aged Care Award pay rates as an achievable benchmark for Certificate III ECEC educator wages, which are now around 23 to 24 per cent lower than the revised levels confirmed by Fair Work. 


Importantly, the significant weight Fair Work placed on the importance of recognising “work value” in its decision also opens the door to Unions, or other employee representatives, to seek an Award increase for educators should the current wage negotiations not yield a fully funded increase that closes the gap between the two sectors. 


That being said, a recent release from the Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT branch, one of the participants in ECEC wage negotiations noted that progress had been “encouraging” and “that significant progress was made on the Commonwealth’s contribution towards a wage increase.”

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