A minimum pay offer of 9 per cent ranging up to 16.8 per cent for allied health professionals at the top of the ‘basic’ pay scale is to be voted on by around 9000 DHB allied health staff.

Following a year of bargaining, the DHBs’ first offer – very similar to the precedent-setting NZNO nurses agreement ratified in August – was settled with the PSA late last week following government funding sign-off.

The offer includes a commitment by the 20 DHBs to pursue the PSA’s pay equity claim for its DHB members but no implementation date for pay equity for the 45 different occupational groups covered by the agreement.

Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary, said the size of the settlement should not be underestimated, covering as it does a large number of occupational groups in the health sector. The pay rises on offer range from at least 9 per cent between now and late next year for all staff under the deal, up to 16.8 per cent for professionals on the current step 6, which is the equivalent of the  top of the basic pay scale (see more details below).

The allied health offer will go to ratification on October 22, shortly after voting also starts on the  offer made earlier last month to the 3500 mental health and public health nurses covered by the PSA.

Allied health professionals and mental health nurses are two of the DHB workforces facing the toughest recruitment battles and the vote will be the first test to see whether PSA members will be content with the DHB’s pay strategy or reject it as did fellow allied health staff, anaesthetic technicians represented by APEX, who are currently taking or threatening strike action.

Ashok Shankar, a PSA bargaining advocate for the DHB sector, said it was hoped that the pay rises and pay equity would help attract people into the DHB, but allied health currently faced a lack of staff to recruit.

“So a whole lot of stuff needs to be done to fix the supply lines of workers.”

The allied health and technical staff agreements have been under negotiation between the PSA and the 20 DHBs since late last year, including the tabling of a pay equity claim. The two agreements – one covering Auckland DHBs and the other the rest of New Zealand – cover about 9000 PSA members in the DHB sector within 45 occupational groups, including social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and anaesthetic technicians, with an annual wage bill of around $670 million.

Shankar said last week that the pay equity settlement negotiated by the PSA for Oranga Tamariki social workers would be “very, very useful” for when DHB social workers also pursued pay equity.

DHB offer for PSA Allied, Public Health and Technical MECA: the details

  • The last agreement expired late last year – a new agreement would expire late 2020 so would cover about a three-year period.
  • A minimum pay rise of 9 per cent by November 2019 i.e. three 3 per cent increases for all members, with the first backdated to September and the second in November.
  • A pro-rata $2000 lump sum.
  • A new basic pay scale step 6 for all professions requiring a three-year degree (or equivalent) of $72,891, rising to $75,078 in November 2019.
  • A further additional progress scale (APS) step culminating in a new step 8 salary of $80,292 in August 2020 (the equivalent of 16.8 per cent for people on the current step 6)*.
  • A 1 per cent salary increase now for the advanced clinician/practitioner scale, followed by a further 2.5 per cent increase for most steps on the scale.
  • On-call allowances increase to $8 an hour and $10 on public holidays.
  • A commitment from the DHBs to exploring and progressing the pay equity claim. No commitment on an implementation date for pay equity.

*Currently the PSA Allied Health MECA has a five-step basic pay scale for three-year-degree-equivalent clinicians and a step 6 additional progress step of $68,707, to which most clinicians automatically progress, followed by a senior, position-based advanced clinician/practitioner scale that at present ranges from $72,772 to $100,168.

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