QNMU wins major pay rise for aged care workers

Published: 7 November 2022

The QNMU, the ANMF and other unions have secured a significant pay rise for aged care nurses and AINs/carers. 

The award base wages of aged care nurses and AINs/carers will increase by 15%, with the possibility of further increases in Stage 3 of our case in the Fair Work Commission (FWC). Check out the table below for details of the interim increase of 15%. 

This outcome is thanks to a major case run in the FWC by the ANMF (which includes the QNMU) and other unions, in which we sought a 25% wage increase.

This will be the biggest increase to aged care award wages in decades.

If you are paid the current award base rate, your wages will increase by 15% at least.

If you are being paid slightly above award base wages (under an enterprise agreement or not), and your hourly rate is now less than the new increased award rate, then your employer must increase your wages to reflect the new increased award rate.  

When will this pay rise happen?

The FWC has not decided when the wage increases must occur. That will be decided in the next few weeks or months in Stage 2 of the case. 

The Albanese Federal Government has already committed to funding this wage increase. We will seek clarification from the government on when aged care providers can expect to receive this additional funding.  

How much more will I be paid?

The table below sets out what the award wage increase of 15% looks like for some selected categories of workers:

Please check how your current hourly pay rate compares to the hourly rates contained in the third (shaded) column in the table above. If your hourly pay rate is more than this amount, it means you already receive above-award wages (eg: under an enterprise agreement). This will mean that the increase you will receive will be less than the 15% increase in Award wages.

You can view all current award rates here .

If you are an EN or RN, you need to know your award pay point within your award classification in order to work out what your new award base wage rate will be (and therefore determine if your pay has slipped below the award rate). Your award pay point number may be different from your current pay point number.

For full-timers, your award pay point number is essentially your years of experience in your classification (with your current employer and any previous employers) plus one. For example, an EN with three years’ experience would be pay point 4.

For part-timers and casuals, your pay point number is essentially your hours of experience divided by 1976 plus one. For example, an RN with 8000 hours of experience would be pay point 5. 

Your employer may think your award pay point is less than it really is, so it’s important to understand yourself what pay point you should be on.

If in doubt, or you believe you are not being paid at the correct pay point, speak to your line manager in the first instance, then contact the QNMU if you cannot resolve it.

Why has this pay increase happened? 

We know the wages of aged care workers have not reflected the true value and contribution of your work for a long time. Calls from unions, including the QNMU, for significant wage increases have long been ignored by employers, despite countless attempts to raise wages through enterprise bargaining. 

Even a recommendation from the Aged Care Royal Commission to increase wages fell on deaf ears under the previous Morrison Federal Government. 

So in May 2021, your federal union, the ANMF, decided to bring our case to the FWC. 

Our case argued that the Aged Care Award and the Nurses Award should be varied to increase the wages for PCWs, AINs, ENs and RNs working in aged care by 25%.

The QNMU dedicated significant resources to this case, including providing submissions and evidence to the FWC. Four QNMU members also provided crucial evidence and spoke bravely about the reality of working in aged care, including the skills required to perform their demanding roles and the poor wages and working conditions aged care workers endure. Thank you to Sherree Clarke (AIN), Pat McLean (Enrolled Nurse), Dianne Power (AIN), and Ginny Mashford (AIN) for your contributions. A QNMU Industrial Officer also gave evidence about how enterprise bargaining has failed aged care staff.

Our work continues

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to fixing the aged care crisis. 

While we understand this pay rise will not solve every problem, it will hopefully help relieve some of the financial pressures you may be facing and go some way to retaining skilled and experienced nurses and carers in the sector.

Workloads and having the right skill mix is equally important to ensure you can provide the level of quality care you know you are capable of. That’s why we are working closely with the Federal Government to ensure they deliver their commitments to:

  • introduce a mandated minimum 215 minutes of care per resident per day
  • legislate a Registered Nurse in every nursing home 24/7
  • ensure funding transparency and accountability for providers. 

The Federal Government recently passed a bill to legislate the above commitments. You can read more about this here.

It pays to belong to our union – together we are making a difference.