Hard-working social and community services (SACS) workers in Queensland – most of them women – will enjoy substantial pay rises under new Australian Government regulations.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said the Government will support these pay increases by providing an extra $30 million to help hundreds of eligible Queensland SACS employers to meet back pay obligations provided for in the regulations.
The new regulations preserve the equal pay rates set by a 2009 decision of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) for workers at up to 316 organisations in the state.
“These workers provide critical services to some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Mr Shorten said.
“We are honouring our commitment to ensure that these workers receive the pay rates awarded in 2009 by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.”
Employers are also required to back pay affected workers employed between 27 March 2011 and 29 February 2012 the difference between the amount actually received during that period, and the amount that would have been payable if their wages had been set by the State award.
Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations Senator Jacinta Collins said this is in recognition that workers would have been entitled to the QIRC rates from 27 March 2011 if the Queensland Government had not referred its industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth.
“That’s why we preserved the QIRC decision pay rates that applied to employees in the state system when they moved across. And that’s why we are now extending those pay rates to employees who would have moved back to the State system in 2011.”
“The $30 million is in addition to the Government’s $2 billion contribution to the national equal pay case to be phased in over the next 8 years. The Government recognises that some Queensland employers are paying the QIRC rates before the national equal remuneration rates commence and this will be taken into account when funding for the national case is allocated,” Ms Collins said.
“The Government listened to concerns raised by the SACS sector during consultation on the regulations. We have committed to provide information and assistance to employers to determine whether or not they are covered by the regulations. This will also help inform which workers are entitled to receive the benefit of wage increases provided by the regulations.”
The regulations cover employees such as those that work with people with disabilities, counselling families in crisis, running homeless shelters and working with victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
The regulations give Queensland workers who remained in the federal system following Queensland’s referral the immediate benefit of the QIRC decision.
As a result of Fair Work Australia’s recent historic equal remuneration decision, all SACS sector employees in Australia will, over time, be entitled to these higher Queensland rates of pay.