The South Canterbury District Health Board had taken an Employment Court decision in the technician’s favour to the Court of Appeal but the Court had declined the DHB’s appeal.

Public Service Association (PSA) Assistant National Secretary Warwick Jones said the anaesthetic technicians would now be paid at the minimum wage for the time they spend on call but not called in.

“This has been a lengthy process and we are relieved for these members, who have waited years for a resolution,” said Jones.

Nigel Trainor, South Canterbury DHB’s chief executive said the DHB “appreciated the judgement of the appeal”.

“It has provided the opportunity to ensure clarity around key points of law,” said Trainor. “We now look to ensure swift payment for our anaesthetic technicians.”

Jones said while on call its members had had to stay away from their families in shared accommodation – and the benefit of this to the DHB was “significant”. “The Employment Court’s decision recognised that while they were on duty, their time was not their own.”

“This decision has recognised the important work our members do, and we are delighted for them.”

The six technicians were  each required to participate in the on call roster one weekday night, from 8.30pm until 7am plus be part of an on-call weekend roster for up to eight times per year.

Anaesthetic technicians on call at the DHB were required to report for duty within 10 minutes of receiving a telephone call. That means they had to live or stay within 10 minutes reporting time of the hospital at all times but the technicians involved lived too far away so while on call had to stay in accommodation provided by the DHB near the hospital.

The Timaru Herald  reported late last year that the DHB had spent nearly $50,000 opposing the technician’s claim at earlier hearings at the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court because of the “wider implications” of the potentially precedent setting case.

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