Pay rise for 55,000 care & support workers

  • Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a pay rise is on the way for 55,000 of the health sector’s lowest paid workers.

“Tomorrow (1 July) is an historic day for care and support workers with the $2 billion pay equity settlement coming into effect,” says Dr Coleman.

“This means that the 55,000 care and support workers in aged and disability residential care, and home and community support services will receive a pay rise of between 15 and 50 per cent.

“For the 20,000 workers currently on the minimum wage of $15.75 per hour, their pay will increase 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, or more than $5,000 a year.

“The higher wages will make a real difference to the lives of this group of workers, with the settlement correcting the historic undervaluation of their work in caring for some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people.”

The Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Bill, which passed unanimously earlier this month, prescribes the new wage rates that will be phased in over the next five years.

Existing workers will be transitioned to a point on the new pay scale which reflects their skills and experience, while new workers will progress on the basis of their qualifications alone.

The settlement also gives workers access to increased training and qualifications which is expected to result in lower staff turnover and a more highly skilled workforce.

Dr Coleman says the Ministry of Health is continuing to work closely with funders and providers to ensure the first pay run goes smoothly.

“Over the past two months the Ministry has held nationwide information sessions, set up an implementation helpdesk, made advance payments to providers, and released guidance tools to support providers to meet their legal obligations.

“I want to thank the unions, funders, peak bodies, providers, and workers for their cooperation in implementing the settlement.”

The $2.048 billion settlement is primarily being funded through an increase of $1.856 billion to Vote Health and $192 million to ACC.

The settlement follows the TerraNova pay equity claim brought by E tū on behalf of care worker Kristine Bartlett.