The third Aged Care Workforce Retention (ACWR) bonus will be paid in January 2021.

Even since the ACWR bonus has been announced to reward staff working during the COVID-19 crisis, it has been controversial.

Firstly, there was widespread condemnation of the fact the bonus has only been paid to direct care workers, and doesn’t extend to other staff, such as cleaners, laundry workers, and kitchen staff – even though these workers are fundamental to the smooth running of an aged care home, particularly during a pandemic.

The tax treatment of the bonus has also been under a cloud, with workers complaining that once tax is paid, the final amount they receive makes it feel significantly less rewarding.

When the government first announced the bonus, it claimed it would be a tax-free payment, however it backtracked on that promise.

Some providers have dipped into their own pocket to ensure all staff receive a bonus.

Audit program in place for payments

The value of the third payment will be equal to the second payment, unless a ‘variation to funding’ is requested, the Department has said in its newsletter today.

Providers must put in applications for the bonus by Monday 30 November 2020.

To determine how much is due, providers should calculate the eligible workforce in the four weeks preceding the census date.

Providers can compare the profile to the second bonus, and if the amount for the third bonus has decreased by more than 10 per cent, the provider will need to submit a ‘Variation Request and Declaration’ to the Department of Health.

Providers will also have to submit a variation if the amount for the third bonus is more than the second payment.

If a variation is required, providers must submit the variation, along with an updated Eligible Aged Care Worker Staffing Profile Spreadsheet, which is available on the Department’s website.

Variation requests must be submitted to the Department by Friday 11 December 2020.

Questions can be directed to the following email: ACWR@health.gov.au.

The Department has also issued a reminder to providers that payments could be subjected to an audit.

Any questions about the audit can be directed to PwC at workforceretentiongrant@au.pwc.com or the Department at ACWR@health.gov.au.

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