Pay equity settlement for mental health and addiction support workers

Health Minister Dr David Clark is pleased to announce an estimated 5,000 mental health and addiction support workers will soon receive the same pay rates as care and support workers. 

“This Government is committed to pay equity and lifting wages, particularly for our lowest paid workers,” said David Clark. 

In an agreement with unions and employers, the Government will extend the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act to include mental health and addiction support workers. 

Nearly half will get an increase of more than $3 per hour which means full-time workers will be paid approximately an extra $120 a week before tax.  One-in-five workers will get an increase of more than $5 per hour or around an extra $200 for a 40-hour week. 

The new pay scale reflects workers’ qualifications and experience. It will be back-dated to 1 July 2017. 

“This agreement puts right a problem created by the previous Government, which deliberately excluded mental health and addiction workers from the Care and Support Workers settlement. These workers often support New Zealanders when they are most vulnerable and they deserve a fair go. This Government has delivered that,” says Dr Clark.

“Ensuring our mental health and addiction workers are paid what they deserve will help deliver a robust workforce,” says Dr Clark. 

The $173.5 million settlement extension will be implemented over a five-year term and funded through an increase to Vote Health. 

“I would like to thank the Public Service Association, E tū, the Council of Trade Unions and provider representatives for the crucial and constructive role they played in successfully negotiating the agreement,” Dr Clark said. 

“And my thanks also go to the employers who will implement the new wage structure and pay the new rates to their staff.” 

Background 

There are an estimated 5,000 people in New Zealand’s mental health and addiction workforce. 

The Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act increased the pay rates of 55,000 care and support workers in aged and disability residential care, and home and community support services but didn’t include mental health and addiction support workers. 

A claim was lodged with the Employment Relations Authority by the Public Service Association and E tū, seeking that mental health and addiction support workers be paid the same increased wage rates. 

The Government agreed to negotiate an agreement to extend the Act.