The Productivity Commission will undertake a study of employment models across the aged sector, and consider unpaid leave allocations for all workers performing work that involves the care of an older relative or friend.
A final report considering aged care employment will be delivered by September this year, and another report for informal worker entitlements will be produced to government by early 2023.
The study forms part of the federal government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report, specifically recommendation 43 (which advised for further investigation into the impacts of providing aged care workers, as well as informal workers, with additional entitlements) and recommendation 87 (which proposed aged care services have policies and procedures in place to directly employ workers where possible, rather than using contractors).
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt, and Minister for Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck issued a joint statement announcing the study on Wednesday.
“The Productivity Commission inquiry will help us better understand whether unpaid leave would improve carers’ wellbeing and make it easier for them to maintain the care relationship,” the statement read.
“The [wider workforce] study will underline the impact of different employment models on the quality of care delivered to older Australians.”
The government statement explained better understanding the supports available to informal carers was important for this ‘critical element’ of the care system. This was because the care duties performed by partners, children and other relatives also helped senior Australians maintain important social and community connections.
The risk of overlooking groups who may not be eligible for government carer payments or carer allowance meant informal carers may be forced to choose between their caring role and their jobs or careers. The commission inquiry will explore how sustainable it is to continue relying on informal carers in this way.
“The government has accepted, or accepted in principle, 126 out of 148 recommendations from the Royal Commission’s final report,” the ministers said.
“We are implementing reform to transform the aged care system through our historic $17.7 billion budget package.”
Terms of reference for the study will be made available on the Productivity Commission website.