The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), says the Federal Government has broken another promise to aged care workers at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 – by taxing their ‘retention bonus’.
In March, the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, wrote to thousands of low-paid aged care workers, promising them a bonus payment of ‘up to $800 after tax’, but the most recent update from the Department of Health shows that the payment will now be considered as income and will be taxed accordingly.
“The retention bonus has been clouded in confusion from the start; clear details and information regarding how the bonus will work, who will be eligible, and how applications can be made, have not been forthcoming. We’ve also been told by some of our members that their employers aren’t even aware that the bonus scheme exists,” ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said today.
“The ANMF has been in regular contact with the Minister throughout the pandemic, assisting, as much as possible, in developing and implementing the response to COVID-19 in aged care facilities and in the wider community, but despite all good intentions, the Minister has reneged on his promise of providing these heroic aged care workers with the full bonus.
“This bonus was intended to recognise the dedication and commitment aged care workers have continued to show in treating and protecting older Australians during the crisis, potentially putting their own safety and their families’ safety at risk. But just as we’ve gained control over the pandemic, aged care-workers have weathered that storm and we’re on the path to recovery, the Government has backflipped on its promise, which was in writing to every aged care worker, and now said ‘we don’t actually think you’re worth the full amount’.
“Understandably, our affected members in aged care are dismayed and disappointed, but they’re not surprised, it’s far from the first time they’ve been let down by the Government.
“In addition, ANMF members working in nursing, midwifery and aged care, will also be disproportionately impacted by the Government’s announcement that Australia’s full childcare assistance program will end on 12 July.
“In times of crisis, our members often become the sole income-earners in their families; this has continued to be the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. While families continue to struggle as the country takes the long path to economic recovery, it’s critical that we continue to support those still in work and recognise the vital importance of female dominated industries in that recovery.”
The ANMF, with over 285,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and carers in Australia.