Fair Work Australia (FWA) handed down its decision in relation to the Federal Equal Remuneration Case yesterday. The bench’s decision will bring rates of pay for most community sector workers throughout the nation into alignment with the historic Queensland pay equity decision and acknowledges that the work of our sector has been undervalued based on gender for far too long.
QCOSS supports the decision of FWA and believes that it is important to building a stronger community services sector. Improved wages are vital to our industry if we are to attract and retain a new generation of workers. Receiving recognition of the value of the work we do is also an important mechanism for obtaining increases in funding from funding providers.
Of course funding remains a key issue for Queensland organisations. Whilst QCOSS welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment to fund this decision, it is important to remember that for some Queensland organisations the Queensland Transitional Pay Equity Order prevails until the federal rates are equal to or better than the Queensland pay equity rates. This commitment of funding seems to only relate to the federal decision and is thus likely to be distributed in line with the phasing in of the federal rates.
This raises the question – what does this mean for Qld organisations that are already paying pay equity rates or may be required to through the Fair Work Regulations? QCOSS continues to lobby both the Commonwealth and State governments to fund the full, fair cost of service delivery for all government contracted services and argues that the unique situation in Queensland warrants a unique funding response. QCOSS is calling for an industry support package to support Queensland organisations that are or soon will be bound by the Queensland pay equity rates whilst the Federal decision is phased in.
A strong sustainable community sector is vital to every community in Queensland and requires planning and negotiating with all stakeholders to ensure the continuation of services.
Read the full QCOSS media release.
Key Points of the FWA Decision
The order applies to workers in the SACS and CASH classifications of the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (modern Award). The order is separate to the modern award and set out as a percentage on top of the modern award rates. There will be a note added into the modern award referring to the order.
The order awards the following increases, which will bring the federal rates into alignment with the Queensland pay equity rates:
Level 2 - 19%
Level 3 - 22%
Level 4 - 28%
Level 5 - 33%
Level 6 - 36%
Level 7 - 38%
Level 8 - 41%
These increases are to be paid over an eight year period in nine equal installments on the 1st of December each year, commencing in December 2012 and ending in December 2020. The graduate entry points for 3 and 4 year graduates were also increased one pay point on the new Modern Award scale.
The decision includes cumulative annual loadings to account for impediments to bargaining in the sector. These loadings total 4% over the eight years and are to be paid over the same 9 installments. This loading will be in addition to Annual Award Wage Reviews so that the decision is not eroded over the implementation period.
It is important for Queensland organisations to remember that for affected organisations the Queensland Transitional Pay Equity Order prevails until the federal rates are equal to or better than the Queensland rates. Affected organisations are those who were bound by the original Queensland decision or who will be tied to it through the re-drafted Fair Work Regulations, which is expected in the coming weeks.
Organisations should seek industrial relations advice regarding their individual situation. We have collated a list of sources for this advice on the Community Door Website.