Care and support workers holding nursing degrees from the Philippines, India, South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom now hold qualifications equivalent to the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 3).
Industry training organisation Careerforce has assessed the level of degree-level nursing qualifications from these countries and determined that these qualifications are equivalent to New Zealand’s Level 3 qualification for pay equity purposes.
To move up a qualification level and gain equivalency to the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Advanced Support) (Level 4), these workers can complete two additional unit standards to ensure they have the cultural competency required for this level.
The change may affect employers, who under the new Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017 are required to pay their employees new wage rates, linked to qualifications and experience.
The Act specifies that these qualifications must be a Level 2, 3 or 4 New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing issued by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA); or a qualification (whether from New Zealand or overseas) that is recognised by the relevant industry training organisation (ITO).
Careerforce has recently been tasked to establish whether existing or expired care and support qualifications, including international qualifications, are equivalent to New Zealand Health and Wellbeing qualifications for pay equity purposes.
It is then up to employers to implement the new rates of pay for these care and support workers, as set out under the Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017.
The New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) was reportedly “furious” that the change was made without consultation, and advised its members to “ignore this update until such time as we have discussed the matter with Careerforce and the Ministry of Health”.
However, Careerforce clarified that sector consultation would not have had any bearing on the change. The ITO stressed that its involvement is purely in the assessment of the equivalency of qualifications – not the tasks that a qualified employee is expected to undertake in a workplace.
“We do not have any discretion in performing this duty. We are obliged to meet the requirements of the New Zealand education system and there is no ambiguity which could be influenced by consultation.”
Careerforce and the NZACA have committed to a series of information roadshows over the next few weeks allowing the opportunity for questions and clarification on this issue.