Things have moved rapidly since the Government’s pay equity announcement. With the settlement signed, legislation drafted, and implementation plans underway, caregivers can expect to receive a pay rise from 1 July 2017 onwards.

Today the $2 billion pay equity settlement was signed at Parliament by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and representatives from the Ministry of Health, ACC, DHBs and Unions, along with care worker Kristine Bartlett.

“The signing of this agreement means that on 1 July this dedicated and predominantly female workforce will receive a pay rise of around 15 and 50 per cent. For a full-time worker, this means they will be taking home at least an extra $100 a week, or more than $5,000 a year,” says Dr Coleman.

The Health Minister has warned that implementation of the settlement will be “complex” due to the 4000 contracts that need to be amended with around 1000 providers.

“To ensure workers receive their new wages from 1 July, unions are holding ratification meetings around the country and the Ministry of Health is holding regional meetings to help funders and providers better understand their obligations. I will also be introducing legislation to Parliament shortly,” says Coleman.

District Health Boards will determine funding arrangements for aged residential care providers. Prior to 30 June 2017, funders and providers will work with the Ministry’s implementation team to test these funding arrangements before payments go ‘live’ 1 July. Providers will then advise funders that they have commenced making payments to employees at the revised levels.

The Equal Pay implementation team at the Ministry of Health has made available to residential aged care providers a draft Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Operational Policy document with information on qualification verification and translation to new pay bands, ratification payments and information sessions. The final version is expected to be released 12 May.

New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) chief executive Simon Wallace says he expects there will be many questions from members now that these documents are available and the NZACA will continue to work closely with the Equal Pay implementation team at the Ministry of Health to address questions as they arise.

“We appreciate these changes are significant for the industry and as this is a large settlement it will take time for everyone involved to work through the detail. We are particularly concerned on what appear to be very onerous data requirements,” says Wallace.

“After the ARC Steering Group has met on 10 May, we hope to be in a position to advise details on workshops for aged residential care operators.”

For more information, The Ministry of Health website has this page dedicated to pay equity implementation and will be updated regularly. There is also a dedicated pay equity implementation email address, payequity_implementation@moh.govt.nz.

Pictured: Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman signing pay equity settlement with caregiver Kristine Bartlett.

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