18 Apr 2017

Govt settles historic pay equity case

5:04 pm on 18 April 2017

The government has reached a pay equity settlement for care and support workers in response to landmark legal action.

Dementia, Alzheimer's, generic pic, hands, elderly hands

Photo: 123RF

In 2013, Kristine Bartlett - a professional caregiver - successfully argued in the Employment Court her low hourly pay rate was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act.

Prime Minister Bill English today told Morning Report that Cabinet would discuss settling the case for state-subsidised care workers this afternoon.

The settlement - worth $2 billion over five years - was confirmed about 4pm.

From 1 July, the predominantly female workforce would receive a pay rise of about 15 to 49 percent, depending on qualifications and experience.

Read the full statement from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman

Ms Bartlett said the settlement would give workers dignity and pride knowing they were being paid what they were worth.

After years of struggling on low wages, she said she hoped they would now have a bit left over to enjoy life.

Prime Minister Bill English said the settlement would affect about 55,000 workers.

"The agreement is the result of a complex and detailed negotiation over the past 20 months and it will deliver a significant pay boost for some of the country's most dedicated and hard-working, but lowest paid, workers," he said.

The deal affects workers in three government-funded service sectors: aged residential care, home support and disability services.

'Game-changer'

NZ Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said earlier today, before the details were announced, that the agreement would have a big impact on the sector.

"Caregivers will be paid more for the valuable work that they do," he said.

"That's good for the sector and it's a game-changer as far as attracting new people into our sector to work."

It was still too early to know if the private sector would raise wages for their employees too, he said.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said businesses would need to learn how to address potential pay gap claims, because it was the fair thing to do.

But he said it was critical that payment timeframes were put in place so they were not bankrupted in the process.

  • Pay rise on the cards for caregivers
  • Gender pay gap still stuck at 12 percent