The Australian Government is supporting the aged care sector respond to the current COVID-19 crisis in Victoria through the provision of funding to assist the implementation of the Guiding principles for residential aged care – keeping Victoria residents and workers safe.
The Australian Government's support is designed to help employers and employees develop voluntary arrangements to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This builds on the announcement of 19 July 2020 by the Hon Greg Hunt MP, in which a range of Australian and Victorian Government measures were announced to support aged care workers and residents across Victoria.
Under these principles, which were developed by the aged care sector in consultation with peak bodies, unions and government, ideally an aged care worker will be limited to working at a single aged care site to minimise the chances of spreading COVID-19 across multiple sites.
This means workers who have more than 1 aged care employer will choose a primary employer – which must be the employer they work most hours per week with if they are to access Australian Government assistance – and that facility will employ them for at least their total normal hours by providing additional hours equal to or greater than the hours they were working elsewhere.
If the employer does not have sufficient rostered hours to employ the worker for additional hours forgone at other aged care facilities, then they must employ them for supernumerary hours up to the foregone amount. The employer can then make a declaration to the Australian Government for reimbursement of the supernumerary paid hours that have been worked by that worker.
This will guarantee the full workforce, and potentially additional workforce, is available to deliver care and support to residents. This means workers will be paid for all the hours they would have worked across multiple sites so long as they work those hours at a single site. A worker may be requested but not required to work additional hours beyond their usual combined total hours.
The implementation of these guidelines will protect residents and staff while ensuring workforce capacity is maximised. The Australian Government funding will support aged care providers and their staff to establish rostering arrangements to meet this critical objective.
In order to protect workforce continuity, the guidelines are not mandatory; however, they have been developed by the aged care sector to protect residents and staff and are strongly recommended by both the Australian Government and state government.
The expectation is providers in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will adhere to these guidelines for the next 8 weeks. No provider or worker will be financially disadvantaged as a result of these guidelines. In addition to paying for supernumerary hours, the Australian Government will also provide funding support for:
- leave for workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate in accordance with public health orders where they do not have sufficient leave provisioned or where leave is exhausted, less the $1,500 payable by the Victorian Government under its workforce funding support program
- training of additional workers where existing employees are unable to work due to self‑isolation/quarantine requirements.
These arrangements will be detailed in broader Grant Opportunity Guidelines which will explain when and how providers can apply for this support. These will be available in the near future.