Govt makes sure support workers have right to take pay-equity claim

  • Hon Andrew Little

The Government is taking action to make sure homecare and support workers have the right to take a pay-equity claim, while at the same time protecting their current working conditions and delivering a pay rise.

“In 2016, homecare and support workers – who look after people in their own homes – won an historic court case that gave them the right to pursue pay equity but a deal done with the previous Government barred them from doing it,” Andrew Little said.

“That legislation, the Support Workers (Pay Equity Settlement) Act 2017, is due to expire next week. If we allowed National’s law to run its course, this group of workers would have lost their terms and conditions on July 1.

“That’s why today we’ve introduced a Bill that preserves existing terms and conditions, provides an interim pay increase and ends the discriminatory situation that prevented them from taking a pay-equity claim.”

The Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Amendment Bill increases pay rates for support workers.

“The rates in the legislation are being lifted by 4.6 per cent, which means the top rate will go from $27 an hour to $28.25 an hour,” Andrew Little said.

“Of this, 1.6 per cent was paid in an out-of-cycle rise at the end of last year and the rest will be paid from July 1, making sure workers have got extra money in their pockets while they pursue a pay-equity claim,” Andrew Little said.

The Bill is expected to pass all stages tomorrow and come into force by July 1 to make sure support workers don’t lose their current protections.

Andrew Little said support workers should have the same right as other workers to pursue a pay-equity claim.

“Pay equity – in which the roles and responsibilities of jobs traditionally done by women are objectively compared to those traditionally done by men – is what will make a real difference to these workers,” Andrew Little said.

“Pay equity is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, but it is the right thing to do. There is no place in 21st century Aotearoa New Zealand for 1950s’ attitudes to work predominantly carried out by women.”

The first pay-equity agreement in the health sector, giving fair pay to thousands of hospital clerical and administration workers, was signed earlier this month.

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