Life-changing win for home support workers comes into force

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The lives of tens of thousands of home support workers will change today with the coming into force of an agreement for secure working hours.

From today, home support workers who provide often complex and intimate care for vulnerable people in their homes will have guaranteed hours of work - and a secure income.

The workers will be guaranteed initially at least a a minimum of 80 percent of their average working hours within agreed timeframes.

"For years, this has been a hidden workforce - but this change will begin to recognise home support workers and the valuable and important work they do," PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

E tū delegate Jenny Stewart says until today, home support workers were paid by the client - so if a client moved away or went into hospital, their pay vanished.

"You’re on minimum wage so it’s tight anyway and it's horrible to live like that. So the security of guaranteed hours is huge," Ms Stewart says.

"This will enable a lot of people to sleep at night a little better."

E tū Senior organiser Sam Jones says that after three years of work, it is great to see the changes finally being implemented.

"It’s moved more than 20 thousand people off zero hour contracts.

"They now have job security and guaranteed hours and we have worked with everyone including the government to make this a reality."

Jenny Goodman, the support worker and PSA Delegate in whose name the original court case was taken, says this will make a big difference in support workers’ lives.

"It’s been really rewarding watching this long, constant battle come to fruition.

"It proves the power of being in a union, and of never giving up," she says.

"Until today, I’ve worried every day about whether I’ll have money to pay rent - and now I won’t have to," PSA delegate and home support worker Eleanor Keepa says.

For PSA delegate and home support worker Donna Weallans, guaranteed hours will bring a sense of security.

"Right now, I live pay-cheque to pay-cheque, and this change will mean I can make plans for my life and my kids’ lives."

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The original In Between Travel settlement agreement provided for home support workers to be paid for travelling time and travel costs in between client visits.

It was also agreed to introduce guaranteed hours and security of work for the home support sector.

This historic agreement was made between Unions, Providers, the Ministry of Health and DHBs.

It covers around 20,000 home support workers across the country and around 70 Employers.

The deal also includes access to level 3 training which will also benefit their clients.