The July 1 deadline is looming ever closer as pay equity legislation is rushed through, Workforce Transition Tools need completing, information sessions are on offer and ratification meetings are held.

Legislation

The Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Bill passed its first reading unanimously in Parliament yesterday.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says shepherding this bill through its first reading in Parliament is another “significant milestone” towards implementing this historic pay equity settlement on 1 July.

“This will enshrine the new pay rates in law and ensures providers pass on the higher wages to the 55,000 workers in our aged and disability residential care, and home and community support services around the country.

“For these 55,000 workers this funding boost will see wages increase to between $19 to $27 per hour over five years. Existing workers will be transitioned to positions on the new pay scale which reflect their skills, and their experience. For new workers employed after July 1 wages will be based on an individual’s level of qualifications.

“For the 20,000 workers currently on the minimum wage of $15.75 per hour, it means on July 1 they will move to at least $19 per hour, a 21 per cent pay rise. For a full-time worker, this means they will be taking home around an extra $100 a week, which is over $5,000 a year.”

The bill has been sent to the Health Select Committee for public submissions and is due to be reported back to Parliament on 2 June 2017. It has been fast-tracked through the House to ensure it is passed by 1 July.

Dr Coleman says despite the urgency, it’s important the public has the opportunity to have their say.

E Tu’s Alastair Duncan says the union has some concerns around the legislation in its current state and will voice its objections through the consultation process.

Ratification meetings

Meanwhile pay equity ratification meetings are proving contentious with some employers insisting that their managers attend the meetings, while E Tu says their attendance would be “inappropriate”.

Meetings are being held all around New Zealand between the unions and workers in the aged care, disability and home-support sector to ratify the Government’s pay equity settlement offer. E Tu has extended the meetings to all workers affected by the settlement offer, not just union members.

However, Alastair Duncan said employers were not entitled to attend the whole meeting.

The meetings will give workers a chance to vote on whether to rest the legal action in favour of the settlement offer. If the majority vote for it, the Equal Pay Settlement will be implemented from July 1.

Duncan said some larger providers, including Ryman Healthcare and Oceania, were among those who wanted mangers to be present at the meetings.

The Ministry of Health has sent a letter to providers suggesting a format for employers to hold ratification meetings with the unions. The New Zealand Aged Care Association says that employers are entitled to negotiate their own acceptable format for these meetings.

Workforce Transition Tool and information sessions

With the Workforce Transition Tool deadline of 2 June looming, aged care providers are busy getting prepared for the next step in implementing the pay equity settlement. Information sessions for providers are being held across the country all this week to help address the many queries emerging from providers.

At a recent information session in Hamilton, tensions were reportedly high among those providers who attended. Smaller providers voiced their concerns around losing staff through the process.

INsite is currently working on a more in-depth feature that looks at these issues. Check out insitemagazine.co.nz next week!

 

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