Aged care newsletter

Posted on
August 5, 2020
Aged Care Sector

Your sector update.

This week it seems like you can’t turn on the TV, read the newspaper or have a chat to a friend without aged care coming up. As the number of residential facilities impacted by COVID-19 skyrockets aged care has unfortunately increasingly become a bit of a political football. 

We welcome Fair Work’s decision to, in line with our submissions to the Commission, put in place paid pandemic leave. But we are saddened it had to get to this for the country and the government to start listening.  

We all know that aged care facilities all too often are held together by the workers and their good-will. The government has continually refused to increase funding so that we can get minimum staffing levels on the floor and the pay-rises necessary to attract more people to the industry. It took the union movemen tand the pandemic to make Fair Work listen when it came to the need to put in place safeguards to deal with some of the problems that the industry has created for itself, namely casualisation and workers spread across multiple facilities.  

With aged care in the spotlight we have been working with our sister union branches across the country to make sure that the truth is brought to light and the public sees the need for the government to step up and come to the table! 

Take a page out of Tandara’s books 

When the retention bonus was first announced, HACSU wrote to many aged care facilities to confirm that they had applied for the bonus for all staff that were eligible.  

Many wrote back saying that they had applied, which was fantastic – but one stand-alone aged care facility along the North West coast went one step further.  

Tandara Lodge not only applied for the retention bonus, but management and the board decided that although the Minister may have excluded certain workers from the payment, Tandara believed every staff member that worked in their aged care facility deserved it. 

So, true to their word, they did exactly that and paid all their staff the retention bonus! 

Congratulations to Tandara’s management and board for seeing the value in all your workers – let’s hope other bigger sites take a page from your book!   

Rostering: the bane of everyone’s existence and what can you do to help 

We often hear about shifts not being filled and staff working short, with those same staff then being called in to fill other shifts as they come up vacant. 

We spoke to a member who works in rostering to get their take on what staff can do to help. 

Other than chronic understaffing due to staffing and workload issues, unexpected staff absences can be a big issue when it comes to rostering and they suggested considering the following to try to alleviate some of the issues: 

•  Where possible, update your availability with the roster team as it might not be accurate

•  Some staff have restrictions as to how many hours they can work and picking up an extra shift can cause unintended issues.However, if they offer to pick up a vacant shift rostering can always have a discussion at the time around dropping a later shift, which gives the roster person a bit more time to fill that shift

•  If you can do part of a shift or would be willing to negotiate start and finish times then this could also be a negotiated option rather than a shift going unfilled

•  If you’ve put in for multiple shifts and are successful, dropping a shift late can have unintended consequences 

With many facilities on shoestring budgets with minimal backfill numbers, small adjustments to rostering habits can sometimes be a big help to ensuring numbers on the floor are maximised.  

It pays to be union 

Casual award-based employees in aged care and social & community services including disability will be paid the 25% casual loading on top of their penalty rates for working Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from July 1,2020.

This happened because HACSU and other unions have pushed for and won this change,and the main reason we achieve great outcomes like this is because these sectors are highly unionised, but some workers reading that may not even get penalty rates for working Saturdays.

Here are some important questions that workers should ask themselves:  

•  Are your working conditions good?

•  Are you on an agreement or an award?

•  Is your employer fair and equitable?

•  Do you always receive all your entitlements?

•  Will asking for entitlements make your employment insecure?

•  Have you ever been told ‘you’re lucky to have a job’ as a reason why something isn’t paid?

Anyone who feels there’s an imbalance going on that they want to change should contact us so we can chat about how to fix things by giving HACSU members a stronger voice at work.

For more info please contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or  

Assisting aged care workers

We recently had an aged care worker ask us for help after an incident occurred at work that resulted in injury to an aged care resident. The member had been working under unsafe conditions due to ongoing behavioural issues from a resident with severe dementia. Staffing levels and lack of a clear care plan resulted in escalation of the resident’s behaviours.

The incident resulted in disciplinary proceedings and HACSU helped the member with responding to allegations and attended the disciplinary meeting to represent and advocate for them.

The member was looking at potential termination of employment due to seriousness of allegations, however working together we managed to ensure a single warning was given and further training opportunities offered. The resident has now been moved to another facility where they can receive the care they require.

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