Aged care newsletter

Posted on
June 1, 2020
Aged Care Sector

Your fortnightly union update

As visitor restrictions for residential facilities ease,we’ve been working to make sure workers’ voices are heard about the return to a‘new normal’.

We recently spoke at one of the largest national aged care get-togethers and told the big employers, lobbies and the government what we think needs to change to help workers at this difficult time - one of the big-ticket items was the Visitor Access Code and what it means on the floor - remember,if you’re experiencing difficulties due to new visitor restrictions should let us know.

We’ve also raised key concerns with the Federal Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck and Labor Shadow Minister,Julie Collins including:  

•  The need for a fairer worker retention bonus

•  More funding and spending transparency measures

•  Paid leave to help workers stay home without financial risk if they are unwell

•  Resources to support the safe roll out of the new Industry Visitor Access Code

•  Clear directives to help workers keep second jobs

•  Better PPE guidelines including training

•  More consultation with the workforce via the union 

Is wage theft happening in your workplace? 

We’ve been bargaining for a new workplace agreement with an aged care provider for many months and we’d specifically told them three years ago they were at risk of falling below the award because of the previous poor wages offer.

So… we obtained a payslip and discovered wages had already below what is legally allowed - this is called wage theft and they’ve been doing it for nearly 12 months!  

Here’s the differences we discovered:  

EA Classification                     Weekly rate difference between award & EA

Services and ECA Level 2     $1.59

Services Level 3                    $1.49

ECA Level 4                           $1.67

ECA Level 5                           $0.55

As you can see in the table above it may not be a fortune,but it is hard-earned money that aged care workers deserve in their pockets and not for the employer to keep.

HACSU members will be receiving back pay shortly if they fit into the classifications. This is a base pay underpayment, so when you factor in shift penalties and OT rates, the difference will be much higher.

This is a great win for workers and if you believe that you are being underpaid you need to contact us.

The only way to combat wage theft is to know your rights and be a member of the mighty union HACSU.   

The importance of using handover in your workplace 

In aged care, it can be challenging for staff at the best of times, but throw in the COVID-19 situation and a bit of a gastro scare, not to mention a fall or two, and all hell breaks loose. We know most aged care providers have increased the tasks required of care staff due to COVID-19 situation but may not have increased the amount of care staff on the floor to make up for the additional workload.

We’re hearing from workers all the time that they’re are struggling to get the allocated tasks done in the shift time and that some are staying behind to complete tasks. We’ve also heard that in some cases, with all the pressure, workers are making mistakes around when to wear PPE and when not to, and with all the putting it on and taking it off and residents that have behaviour issues or wander about, it can be challenging and some mistakes are bound to happen.

We know that over your time in aged care you have all been task driven with getting certain jobs done in the allocated time frame, but now is the time to HAND IT OVER to the next shift if it is impossible to get everything done on your shift.

The name handover in itself spells out what the intention o fit should be - handover should be for passing on information about residents,medication and behavioural issues and also tasks that you could not complete.

If you don’t hand it over, then your employer will just expect that you will do everything you are supposed to on your shift be it in paid time or unpaid time, they do not care.

Once your employer starts to see what can’t be done on a shift then we may have a case for increased staff levels.   

What’s the deal with Mandatory Training? 

We’re sure you would agree that mandatory in-house training seems to come around very quickly. That’s usually the time when staff are told that they have to complete certain modules to remain up skilled and in the loop.Modules could be on things like bullying and harassment, infection control,work health and safety, manual handling, elder abuse and most recently in the aged care sector, the uptake of specific COVID-19 training.

Some workers have reported that they’ve been told that they have to complete the training whilst they are on shift and if they do it at home after hours they won’t be paid.

Completing training on shift in work hours would be idea lbut is an impossibility in some instances due to the workload associated with caring for residents. 

If it’s compulsory training, it does need to be completed,but management does have to pay you to complete it and this is regardless of whether its completed at work or at home after hours (remembering in some instances, you’ll need to prove that it’s complete with things like certificates of completion).   

Assisting aged care workers 

HACSU representation saved an aged care worker’s employment recently after one member called HACSUassist and told us they’d been escorted from the facility and threatened with termination of a WHS breach.

The member had been near the back entrance of their facility when two men were at the door, demanding to come in. The member asked them to go around the front to sign in, as required by all visitors due to COVID-19.The men were doctors who couldn’t hear the member through the door, and when the member opened the door to tell them, the men pushed past and entered the facility.

HACSU requested CCTV footage of the incident and after viewing it, we told them employer it was clear that our member’s actions were not an intentional breach - the employer backed down and the final outcomes was that there was no disciplinary action and our member has now returned to work.

HACSU is here to help. If you are ever worried about something at work, call us right away on 1300 880 032.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form

Aged Care Sector