DHB negotiators have taken a settlement proposal from junior doctors - who are threatening further strike action - back to their chief executives for a response next Wednesday.
Junior doctors threatened more strikes as mediation talks in Auckland over the pay and roster dispute ended without a solution yesterday.
Both sides have accepted the need to address current rosters with a maximum of 12 consecutive work days and two days off, and a move to a maximum of 10 consecutive days with four off was being considered.
However, District Health Boards said they would not pay the doctors for days not worked, effectively reducing their total pay.
Resident Doctors Association national secretary Deborah Powell said the union had proposed a settlement.
She said the DHBs intended taking penal rates off the doctors, which would result in an average pay cut of at least $20,000 a year.
"This is simply unfair. The DHBs are trying to penalise us for wanting to work safely."
DHBs disputed that, saying none of the three offers in a row made to date had sought clawbacks, "and none will".
Dr Powell said she was angered that DHB negotiators listened but then adjourned yesterday for further discussion with the 20 DHB chief executives, who had not been at the negotiating session.
"Ostensibly to discuss forming an offer with the CEOs. We expect cherry-picking items that meet their agenda."
The DHBs said last night a new offer to the doctors would need careful consideration as the pay and roster row was extremely complex. They said the new offer would need to be approved by the chief executives next Monday, and it would be presented to the union next Wednesday.
Lead chief executive for the DHBs Julie Patterson told RNZ "significant progress" was made yesterday, and said it was encouraging to hear the union now agreed that doctors should not be paid for days they did not work.
She said if that was accepted then the DHBs would have more money to put into the new offer DHBs would make next week.
"If we're not paying them for the days off then that gives us some freedom to look at how we might add an additional allowance for working antisocial hours. So that's what we are looking at at the moment."
Mrs Patterson added the average salary for a house officer was $105,100 and registrars was $143,400.
"Moreover, the last DHBs' offer to the RMOs [Resident Medical Officers] includes a 5 percent pay increase over three years."