Aged care nurses score backpay win for unpaid Covid work

Nurses at an aged care home in Beaudesert will be offered $45,000 in back pay for unpaid work during Covid.

Oct 20, 2022, updated Oct 20, 2022
More than 10,000 samples connected to criminal activity are sitting untested in the Queensland forensics lab. (Image: AAP)

More than 10,000 samples connected to criminal activity are sitting untested in the Queensland forensics lab. (Image: AAP)

The nursing staff at Wongaburra Garden Settlement will share in the funds for performing on-site rapid antigen tests (RATs) before their shifts.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) secretary Beth Mohle said the nursing staff were forced to spend unpaid hours on site performing the procedures during the height of the pandemic.

Mohle said nursing staff at the aged care facility were made to either arrive at work 15 minutes early to perform a daily RAT test prior to starting paid work or have time taken to perform a RAT deducted from their pay.

She said the QNMU win could set a valuable precedent for Queensland aged care nursing staff forced to perform unpaid RAT tests on site prior to beginning a shift.

“The QNMU is very pleased to announce Wongaburra members will share in a total of around $45,000 in back pay and additional penalties,” Mohle said.

“Hard working aged care workers in Queensland’s 400-plus private aged care facilities cannot be made to perform RAT tests in their own time.

“Anything an employer requires an employee to do is work, for which the employer must pay wages. That’s the law.”

Mohle said the QNMU was determined to ensure all aged care employers were properly paying their staff for time spent performing tests associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If they aren’t, the QNMU will seek to ensure all aged care nursing staff are properly compensated,” she said.

Mohle said the case went before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) September 27.

She said Wongaburra’s barrister requested a meeting with the QNMU minutes before the FWC hearing was due to commence and the QNMU successfully negotiated a backpay settlement and improved conditions for impacted staff.

“The QNMU wants private aged care employers to know we will not tolerate ongoing attempts to take advantage of Queensland’s invaluable aged care workforce,” Mohle said.

“Aged care nursing staff provide care for elderly Queenslanders when they are at their most vulnerable and should be treated with respect and paid a wage that reflects their incredible efforts.”

Management of the community-based Wongaburra Garden Settlement has been contacted by InQueensland and declined to comment on the matter.

The Wongaburra settlement comes as the QNMU pursues a 25 per cent aged care wage rise for workers.


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