The Care and Support Workers Pay Equity Settlement Act: The good, the bad, the ugly... and the action you can take
The Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Act between 2017 and 2019 was a great achievement for nearly 65,000 workers in aged care residential, home support, disability support, and mental health & addictions.
Legislation to extend the Act was introduced and passed in the week of June 20.
The extension of the Act ensures that your pay rates, qualifications and progression framework are protected for 18 months.
The rates which will apply represent an increase of only 3% on your current hourly rates of pay. With the cost of living (inflation rate) sitting at 6.9%, 3% for 18 months is not enough.
An increase of only 3% will leave you no doubt feeling disappointed and angry; make sure to read on below for some next immediate next steps union members can take.
Your unions have been working on the extension of the Act and getting a fair pay increase with the Ministry of Health for 18 months, but the Ministry refused to provide your unions with a copy of the draft legislation or share the pay rates until the day the bill was introduced (21 June).
The Minister’s office also issued a press release stating that the increase being legislated is 4.6%, but this is not correct.
The 4.6% amount quoted includes the 1.6% increase that you were entitled to under the Act for last year’s LCI adjustment. This was part of the original settlement your unions negotiated back in 2017, and some of you are STILL waiting for the small amounts of backpay from this adjustment to be paid out.
This misinformation is a further disappointment to all involved in the process, and unions will be writing to the Prime Minister about these frustrations and the inaccurate portrayal of what is being delivered to you all as workers.
We urge all of our care and support worker members to channel your disappointment into action for change.
What your union are doing
- Unions will be lodging a care and support workers’ pay equity claim on 1 July 2022 (the soonest date we are legally able to do so)
Union officials have been working on the legal preparation for this as well as meeting with employers to discuss the process we want to go through to fast track the care and support worker Pay Equity claim.
- Unions will be formally writing to the government to ask them to agree to an interim pay increase during the pay equity process (similar to other workers in the health sector pay equity claims) until the full pay equity process is completed.
18 months is far too long to wait for a further increase given the government has decided to provide you with only a 3% increase on your rates of pay during this period!
- Union members are continuing to use bargaining processes and political pressure points to highlight how inadequate the 3% increase is!
What you can do
We need to keep getting the issues for care & support workers in the media, keep meeting with MPs so they commit to fund another pay increase, and keep working with our allies and supporters to shine a light on what ignoring the care and support crisis will mean for everyone in our communities.
- Attend union meetings organised in your regions for collective bargaining processes and get active and build a strong collective so you can use these processes to improve pay and conditions for your work
- Continue to write, email, meet with local MPs to let them know that 3% is not enough and an additional increase is needed before the 18 months is up. The 4.6 % the Minister of Health announced included 1.6% that was due 1 July 2021 and 3% for 18 months is not enough when your cost of living is 6.9%
- Ask your local MPs to raise this with cabinet colleagues, letting them know that your unions are lodging a Pay Equity claim BUT the current Pay increase is not enough for 18months. Ask them to support you by supporting an additional pay increase so you can continue to work and provide support to some of the most vulnerable in our communities.
- Invite your local MP to come to your workplace – show them what you do everyday, and the pressures the sector is under. Ask your employer to make a visit like this possible, and work with your organiser to help make this happen.
- Public pressure is one of the best ways to ensure there is a proper understanding of the work you do, and the pressures you and the whole sector are facing right now. To have an impact, you should continue to tell your stories of the daily life of a support worker, the work you do, and your struggle on the current pay rates
- Use #PayFairForCare on all social media you use
- Read the 1 June 2022 E Tu press release Ministry Pay Decision A 'Big Setback' For Care And Support Workers
- Read the 22 June 2022 PSA press release Renewed settlement for care and support workers still leaves sector in crisis, unions say
Not a member yet?
More ways to get involved
Let’s send a loud message to the Government that it is unacceptable to allow hard-fought for pay rates to fall behind other workers.
Getting in touch with your local MP and asking to meet with them is a great way to get the message through. The more people who contact their local MP, the stronger our message.
Click here to find your local MP, and reach out to request a meeting with them. If your MP is not agreeing to meet, let your organiser or delegate know!
Make sure to ask your MP to support another pay increase during the equal pay claim process (in addition to the 2.8% increase on 1 July), so you can afford to still do your job!
Writing to the editor of your local newspaper is another great way to get the public informed about what we're fighting for.
Click here for our list of media contacts, and get in touch to tell them:
- The 2.8% (or 70 cents an hour) increase is not enough, especially compared to the 6.9% increase in inflation
- It does not maintain the intention of the care and support workers settlement act
- The government needs to commit to a quick process for the care and support Pay equity claim
- The government needs to fund an interim payment in addition to the 2.8%.
- Make sure to include what will happen to the people you support if more support workers leave for better paying jobs!
As an essential health worker in care and support, the work you do is often unseen and not understood.
We want you to tell us your story, whether it's:
- what do you do in your job,
- why this is important to your clients,
- and/or why your work and skills need to be valued.
The role of the delegate is to act as a democratic leader and represent PSA members in the workplace. Relationship building is key to the role of a delegate – with members, fellow delegates and with management.
To become a delegate:
- Read about the role of delegates at the PSA
- Download and submit the appropriate delegate nomination form from the list below:
- Download the Workplace Delegate Nomination Form
- Download the Rūnanga Workplace Delegate Nomination Form
- Download the Hinonga Māngai Māori Delegate Nomination Form (formerly Māori Enterprise Delegate)
- Download the Vā Moana Delegate Nomination Form (Pasefika enterprise delegate)
- Download the National Enterprise Delegate Nomination Form
- Contact your local organiser
PSA delegates are a part of a team. Even after you’ve done your training, you’ll be supported by other delegates and your PSA organiser. You can also contact Te Roopu Tohutohu Manaaki, the PSA’s member advice and support centre, for more help.The role of delegates
There is some big change coming in your sector.
The Public Service Association, the union that covers support workers, is about to negotiate an equal pay settlement for its members. We'd love you to join the PSA (which you can do by clicking here), but if you just want more information then sign-up to our updates via the form below and we'll update you regularly on what is happening by email or SMS:
In 2017, care and support workers achieved historic pay increases and improvements when we unions won our Care and Support (Pay Equity) Settlement. The courts agreed with unionised care and support workers that the work was undervalued, and that pay rates, training, and progression needed to be vastly improved. This was a huge achievement for nearly 65000 workers in aged care residential, home support, disability support and, in 2018, mental health and addictions. This Settlement was an important step in recognising the value of the work care and support workers do.
The basis of the historic 2017 settlement was the establishment of a close relationship between care and support workers and remuneration paid to DHB healthcare and psychiatric assistants. Between 2017 and 2022 the remuneration for DHB workers has moved way ahead of the care and support workers’ remuneration.
The unions are claiming an immediate catch up and the establishment of new pay rates and we need workers to attend meetings to discuss and endorse the pay claim
The care and support workforce is under pressure from the many demands of Covid but also because of staff shortages caused by New Zealand’s traditional reliance on low pay rates and migrant workers. A settlement of new increased pay rates is an important part of resolving these issues.
In addition to the care and support settlement, we also intent to discuss the following in upcoming negotiations:
- Mechanisms to prevent the cuts in care and support workers hours when the wage increases arising from this settlement come into force.
- The development of a tool for central reporting on qualification levels for care and support workers who have Level 2 to Level 4 qualifications that allows sharing of data with all settlement parties.
This is a joint campaign with our sister unions, NZNO and E tū.