New agreement means big changes for NZ’s fastest growing health sector

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The Government, unions, District Health Boards and home and community support providers have signed off on an agreement that will significantly change the fastest growing sector in New Zealand’s health system – providing support to elderly and disabled people in their homes.

The negotiations for the agreement, which began in April, were in response to a legal claim brought by the Public Service Association against Healthcare of NZ for the payment of the minimum wage to PSA member Jenny Goodman when travelling between clients’ homes. The agreement will require legislation to implement, and is subject to ratification by the workers it affects, District Health Boards and home support providers.

Richard Wagstaff, spokesperson for the Public Service Association, says “this agreement is an important first step in recognising the worth of health and disability workers who support people to live independently in their homes. As part of the negotiations, it was agreed that workers will be paid for their time at work travelling between clients, and reimbursed for their vehicle costs.”

Sam Jones, spokesperson for the Service and Food Workers Union, says “we have also reached agreement to move towards more regular working conditions in the sector. This process will result in better security of hours, a permanent workforce and better training and professional development for workers in the sector.”

Peter Hausmann, spokesperson for Healthcare of NZ, says “as the health sector continues to face a number of challenges due to an aging population and increased health needs, it is constructive that we have worked together strategically with the crown, providers and unions to reach a solution. The review will look at the service changes and levels of funding needed to ensure a sustainable home and community based support sector.”

Andrea McLeod, spokesperson for Home and Community Health Association, says “the agreement means support workers receive payment for their time travelling between client visits. They will also receive a standard amount for travel reimbursement costs, and this will increase if sufficient funding is available.”

Graeme Titcombe, spokesperson for Access Homehealth, says “this sector provides direct support to approximately 40,000 older people, people with chronic health conditions and disabled people in their homes every day. This agreement will help to ensure a sustainable future for the sector as it grows in the face of New Zealand’s ageing population.”

 

Joint media release – The Public Service Assocation; The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota; Healthcare of New Zealand Ltd; Access Homehealth; Home and Community Health Association