How ACCPA lends a helping hand to providers across Australia
During times of significant change and financial stress, the last thing that an aged care provider wants is to accidently underpay or overpay their staff. The following three tips can assist aged care providers to avoid underpaying or overpaying staff.
Be prepared for the next increase in wage rates and allowances
Increases to modern award wage rates and allowances generally happen from the first full pay period on or after 1 July each year and these flow from the Annual Wage Review Decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC).The amount of the increase for wages in awards is announced by the FWC in early- to mid-June. It is then approximately two weeks until the new wage rates and allowance rates are published by the FWC.
At this time, Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) sends out Information Sheets on the updated award rates, as a service to all members.
It is advisable to mark this period in your calendar as the time to prepare for new pay calculations, ensure that they are entered into the payroll system and run a check prior to the first full pay period (or as close to that time as possible).
If staff are covered by an enterprise agreement, it is good practice to read the agreement and understand when any changes are to occur with its conditions. Increases in rates in an enterprise agreement generally occur at set dates during the life of the agreement, so providers have ample warning for forward planning.
It is also important to ensure that your organisation is paying no less than the higher of the applicable wage rate in the enterprise agreement or the equivalent modern award rate. Given that there have been higher than usual increases from recent Annual Wage Review Decisions that may be higher than increases in enterprise agreements, it is good practice to check the agreement rates versus the comparable award rates after the Annual Wage Review Decision in June.
Consider undertaking a payroll audit
An audit to check that the correct rates and business rules have been entered into the payroll system can be undertaken at any time to ensure that your organisation is compliant with the applicable award or enterprise agreement. It can be a useful option especially if there has been turnover in the roles at your organisation that have had responsibility for managing or undertaking payroll activities.
A payroll audit is not just about determining whether the correct rates have been paid over a specific period, it should also assess whether the payroll system has the correct business rules entered. It is the business rules in the payroll system that determine, for example, when penalties and overtime are to be paid according to time worked. If these aren’t entered in compliance with the applicable industrial instrument (the award or enterprise agreement) then an underpayment or overpayment will occur.
There are several ACCPA partners that are experienced in payroll audits for aged care providers and these Partners are listed on the ACCPA Partner Directory (www.accpa.asn.au/ partner-directory).
Get reliable advice on wage rates and allowances and how they are to be applied
It is important that providers have access to a reliable source of advice on the application of wage rates and allowances and other employment issues. Staff do not always have the skills and experience necessary to be able to handle these issues by themselves. Even for staff with strong skills in this area, it is helpful for them to be able to have access to someone they can bounce ideas off, to check they are making the right decisions.
There are a number of organisations that offer employment relations advice. It is important to do your homework and make sure you get advice from an organisation that has strong knowledge and experience with employment matters, to get the quality advice that you are paying for. ACCPA members have access to the ACCPA ER Advisory Service for industry-specific advice on employment matters including pay rates – so if you’re a member and you haven’t made use of this service, reach out today to access the right advice and make the most of your member benefits.
Claire Bailey, Head of Workplace Relations,
Aged & Community Care Providers Association www.accpa.asn.au/employment-relations
This article originally appeared on Aged Care Today Spring 2023 edition.