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Home support providers struggling under pay equity costs

Home support providers struggling under pay equity costs, annual leave liability alone over $4.2 million

Home support providers are facing cumulative and immediate costs of over $4.2 million as a result of the pay equity settlement.

The pay equity deal has set in place legislated wage rates for care and support workers. Whilst providers welcomed the government input into wages, there has been uncertainty about the amount they were expected to contribute to meet other pay equity costs. The limits of the government contribution to annual leave liability has only become clear following completion of a leave allocation tool, and providers are reeling.

Julie Haggie, CEO of the Home and Community Health Association says that the narrow definitions in the assessment tool mean that providers are receiving less than appeared to be originally indicated by the government, due to narrow assumptions in the tool. “The tool does not recognise many service elements that affect leave in our sector, such as wide variation in hours, ‘in lieu’ days, travel time and sleepovers. It also doesn’t recognise the increasing cost of historic annual leave over time. The outcome has shocked us all.”

The Home and Community Health Association recently surveyed members on the implementation of pay equity with a focus on annual leave. All providers who responded reported a funding gap just on annual leave liability, with the cumulated shortfall being $4,209,074.

“Home support is provided one to one, hour by hour.” said Ms Haggie. When a support worker takes leave, every hour with each of their clients needs to be replaced, with carers who are matched to them, at the right time and in the right place. There is more variability than there is regularity. The only way to radically reduce outstanding leave in a short period of time would be to stop services to clients, and that is not acceptable.”

Ms Haggie says that home support providers have made a supreme effort to put in place travel time, guaranteed hours and now pay equity over the last two years. “Those initiatives, whilst good, have exhausted our human and financial capital. We urgently need a focus on the sustainability of our services.”

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