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Vulnerable kiwis will suffer unless Government urgently addresses support worker fair pay agreement

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The country’s largest provider of home and community support services, New Zealand Health Group, is throwing its full support behind the 65,000 carers and support workers across Aotearoa who are calling for the Government to urgently address the inadequate funding in the home-based care sector to ensure fair pay and better work conditions. 

“These are people who work tirelessly to provide in-home care and support to some of our most vulnerable kiwis and they deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do,” said New Zealand Health Group Managing Director Josephine Gagan.

“The home-based sector is at a crisis point and if the significant issues around fair pay and lack of recognition for hours worked, and qualifications held, are not addressed quickly, the impact on the thousands of vulnerable kiwis who need help from carers and support workers to recover and stay well in their own homes will be catastrophic.

“The reality of the Government’s inaction is many health workers will be forced to choose between leaving, or stay working in a sector and continue making a difference to the vulnerable people they support in our communities. Once these workers are gone, without offering fair pay and recognition, it will be nearly impossible to replace them. This means the injured, ill, disabled, and elderly kiwis who need care and support to stay in their own home, will either end up back in hospital, or receive inadequate care.

“The current pay equity agreement that resulted from the landmark case taken by care worker Kristine Barlett is due to lapse in July, yet the only indication we have received from the Government is they have funding for a 2.5% – 3% increase for 18 months. This offer equates to around 70c per hour for many workers which is effectively a pay cut for lower-paid support workers whose start rate will once again be very close to minimum wage.

“The complete lack of commitment from the Government to addressing this is extremely disappointing and today we stand by all our carers and support workers, and unions E tū and PSA, , to send a strong message to the Government to increase their offer and raise pay rates 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 Gagan.