Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Thousands of frontline community health workers including nurses in aged-care facilities are in for a pay hike in efforts to seek pay parity in the health sector.
Cabinet has agreed to on-going funding of $200 million a year so thousands of workers in places such as aged-care facilities, hospices and Māori and Pacific health-care organisations can be paid more.
Health workers who have been under the pump since covid arrived in February 202, need to be paid fairly and receive parity with others doing the same or similar work, especially given the current cost of living pressures workers and their families are under.
An estimated 20,000 people will get a pay rise which will help the organisations employing them, which have struggled to keep staff when they can’t afford to pay as much as Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand is offering.
The pay difference between nurses and healthcare workers in public hospitals, and many of those in what is called the private and non-government sector was the result of the earlier actions to lift the pay of a traditionally female workforce.
This year 10,000 public hospital administration and clerical workers got an historic pay equity deal that saw some with pay rises of as much as 40 per cent.
Government is also negotiating pay-equity agreements with midwives, allied health workers and homecare and support workers, and have boosted the pay of nurses working for Te Whatu Ora by an average 20 per cent and have put aside $540 million a year for a pay equity settlement for them.
The funding will get to the private employers through changes to their contracts with Te Whatu Ora and with Te Aka Whai Ora – the Māori Health Authority.
Those employers must use the money to fix the pay difference between them and public hospitals. Forty million dollars will be made available in the remainder of this financial year, with $200 million a year after that.
Aged-care facilities, hospices, homecare support and Māori and Pacific healthcare organisations will be first, because there is clear evidence that that is where the biggest pay gap is.
“I expect these contract changes will happen in the first part of next year, follow by mental health and addiction facilities, organisations caring for the disabled and other types of residential care, and then other government-funded health services.
The package will not mean significant change immediately for those working in GP practices. Decisions about what is paid to whom have to be based on hard evidence, and the data provided by both the Nurses Organisation and the GP organisation GenPro.