new zealand health group logo

Government must act urgently to fund support worker pay equity agreement

The country’s largest employer of home and community carers and support workers, New Zealand Health Group, is throwing its full support behind the Unions and Peak Bodies in calling for the Government to urgently fund the pay equity claim that will ensure 65,000 support workers are properly paid for their work, saying unjustified interference by government agencies could have significant consequences on people who rely on their help.  

“Our dedicated carers and support workers tirelessly provide in-home and community care and support to our fellow Kiwis who are injured, elderly, disabled and ill,” said New Zealand Health Group Chief Executive Jane Kelley. “This workforce is predominantly women and has been underpaid and undervalued for too long. Achieving a fair pay equity settlement is essential to resolving the historical gender disparities and promoting equality in the home and community workforce.

“Despite following the Government’s prescribed methodology to calculate the pay equity claim, the government agencies’ last-minute decision to commission a review of the milestones achieved is unnecessary and unjustified. It only further delays paying support workers fairly for the invaluable work they do within our community and is, in our view, unacceptable.

“The impact of the agencies’ actions is likely to be far-reaching on the individuals and whānau who rely on the care to live well in their own homes, and the support workers and their own families.

“The reality of the Government’s decision to delay the funding is many health workers will be forced to choose between leaving or staying and hoping the funding will come so they can be paid properly. Once these workers are gone, it will be nearly impossible to replace them, leaving thousands of individuals potentially either ending up in the hospital or receiving inadequate care,” said Ms Kelley.

She adds: “Over the past year, together with the Unions, Peak Body organisations and other key employers, we have undertaken a robust pay equity process. Rather than commission a review of milestones that have already been independently endorsed, the Government should be working with us to negotiate an appropriate and sustainable solution for everyone.

“The lack of commitment from the Government to address pay equity is extremely disappointing and today we stand by all our carers and support workers, and unions E tū, NZNO and PSA, to send a strong message to the Government to urgently fund the pay equity settlement claim for this essential workforce.

“Our vision for New Zealand aligns with the aim of the health reforms which is to bring healthcare services closer to home and create a more equitable, accessible, holistic, and people-centred system that improves the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. But achieving this vision will require a collective effort, including the Government,” said Ms Kelley.

For further information please contact Bronwynne Howse (027 458 3198)