Care & support workers’ pay equity legislation passes 1st reading

  • Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a bill which will ensure 55,000 care and support workers receive their share in a $2 billion pay rise has passed its first reading.

The Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Bill passed its first reading unanimously in Parliament tonight.

“Shepherding this bill through its first reading in Parliament is another significant milestone towards implementing this historic pay equity settlement on 1 July,” says Dr Coleman.

“This will enshrine the new pay rates in law and ensures providers pass on the higher wages to the 55,000 workers in our aged and disability residential care, and home and community support services around the country.

“For these 55,000 workers this funding boost will see wages increase to between $19 to $27 per hour over five years. Existing workers will be transitioned to positions on the new pay scale which reflect their skills, and their experience. For new workers employed after July 1 wages will be based on an individual’s level of qualifications.

“For the 20,000 workers currently on the minimum wage of $15.75 per hour, it means on July 1 they will move to at least $19 per hour, a 21 per cent pay rise. For a full-time worker, this means they will be taking home around an extra $100 a week, which is over $5,000 a year.

“The bill has been sent to the Health Select Committee for submissions and is due to be reported back to Parliament by 6 June 2017.

“It has been fast-tracked through the House to ensure it is passed by 1 July. However, given its significance, it’s important the bill is examined by a select committee and interested parties are given the opportunity to have their say.”

The settlement follows the TerraNova pay equity claim brought by E tū (previously the Service and Food Workers Union) on behalf of care worker Kristine Bartlett.

The $2.048 billion settlement over five years will be funded through an increase of $1.856 billion to Vote Health and $192 million to ACC.