The Fair Work Commission’s Aged Care Work Value Case – An Update

By Madaleine Ziegler, Workplace Relations Advisor  



As detailed in earlier Business Chamber Queensland communications, the Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’) has been engaged in lengthy proceedings known as the Aged Care Work Value Case (‘Work Value Case’). The Work Value Case deals with applications from several unions to vary the minimum wage rates and other clauses of three modern awards.  


These are the:  

  • Aged Care Award 2010 (‘Aged Care Award’);  
  • Nurses Award 2020 (‘Nurses Award’); and  
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (‘SCHADS Award’).*  


*Throughout this article these awards will be collectively referred to as ‘the Awards’.  

The applications are being heard and determined by the FWC in three stages – Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3.  


Stage 1 

On 4 November 2022, the FWC issued a decision (the Stage 1 decision) to provide a 15% interim increase in the minimum wage rates of direct care workers, in both residential and in-home aged care settings.  


This included: 

  • Personal Care Workers (‘PCWs’) under the Aged Care Award; 
  • Home Care Workers (‘HCWs') who work in aged care under the SCHADS Award; and  
  • Registered Nurses (‘RNs’), Enrolled Nurses (‘ENs’), Assistants in Nursing (‘AINs’), and Nurse Practitioners who work in aged care under the Nurses Award.  


Stage 2 

On 21 February 2023, the FWC confirmed the 15% interim increase by issuing a decision (the Stage 2 decision). This increase applied to not only the minimum wage rates of direct care workers but also to the following employees:  


  • Head chefs/cooks under the Aged Care Award (levels 4 to 7), provided they are the most senior food services employee at the facility; and 
  • Recreational Activities/Lifestyle Officers (‘RAOs’) under the Aged Care Award.  


The increase took effect from the first full pay period on or after 30 June 2023.  


Stage 3  

Proceedings of the Work Value Case are now in the third stage.  

During this stage, the FWC will consider submissions and evidence in regard to whether:  


  • The classification structure for PCWs and RAOs in the Aged Care Award should be changed;  
  • The classification structure and minimum wages for AINs and PCWs should be aligned and/or consolidated;  
  • The classification structure in the SCHADS Award should be changed; 
  • The nursing classifications of employees engaged in the aged care industry should be moved from the Nurses Award into the Aged Care Award;  
  • The principles underpinning the classification structures in the Awards should be changed (e.g. progression – time vs. competency-based, pay points, etcetera);  
  • The C10 framework is an adequate benchmark for the Awards; 
  • The application of internal and external relativities is appropriate; 
  • A separate classification structure for aged care HCWs should be created;   
  • Wage adjustments for indirect care employees are justified on work value grounds; and  
  • A further increase for direct care workers (in addition to the interim increases granted in Stages 1 and 2) is justified on work value grounds.  


NOTE | This is not a comprehensive list of the submissions made, but rather an overview.  

Broadly, the above matter can be categorised into two groups: (1) wage adjustment issues, and (2) classification and allowance issues.  

Hearings in relation to these issues took place from 4 December 2023 to 14 December 2023 before an Expert Panel.  


What is next? 

The FWC will likely issue a decision that includes a draft determination to allow the parties to make submissions about the terms and determination.  

It has been foreshadowed that the FWC will hand down its final decision in April this year.  

For employers covered by the Awards, the resulting implications may be significant.  

Business Chamber Queensland will continue to monitor the Work Value Case and keep members informed on any further developments.  


How can Business Chamber Queensland help? 


Business Chamber Queensland members with HR services as part of their membership are invited to contact the Workplace Advisory Services team: 

P: 1300 731 988 

E: [email protected]    


Businesses who do not have a HR membership may also seek assistance however a competitive consultancy fee will apply for any advice and assistance provided.  

For membership enquiries, please contact our membership team on 1300 731 988. 




Acknowledgement of Country

Business Chamber Queensland respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and custodians of the lands from across Queensland and the Torres Strait. We acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal people as the Traditional Custodians of Meanjin (Brisbane), the lands where our office is located and the place we meet, work and learn. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.