NZDSN welcomes pay increases, but has concerns about implementation
18 April 2017
The New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) welcomes the recent announcement of significant pay rises for support
workers in the disability sector.
This is a long over-due recognition of the value and complexity of the work involved and will have a positive impact on
the development of this workforce and on disabled people using support services.
NZDSN represented disability sector employers in the negotiations.
“We were determined to secure a significant lift in pay rates for the people who do such essential work in our sector,”
says NZDSN Chief Executive Dr Garth Bennie. “But we need to make sure the changes would work for the long term
sustainability of employers too.”
For this reason NZDSN advocated consistently for the flow-on costs of significant wage increases to be included in the
settlement. The settlement does include some of the direct and indirect flow-on costs of implementing the settlement,
but NZDSN still has some questions.
“We need some clarity around staff leave, for example,” says Garth. “And how will employers address the fact that many
support workers will find themselves on higher rates than the people who supervise and manage them? The approach has to
be consistently applied."
NZDSN says these remaining flow-on costs will be the subject of negotiations with the Ministry of Health and says
employers need to see the detail of how the settlement will be implemented through their contracts.
“We want to make absolutely certain that these overdue pay increases do not create bigger problems for providers already
stretched trying to make their contracts work,” says Garth.
“The wage increases are an important first step, but we have to make sure they are backed up by more steps to ensure
sustainability in the sector.”
NZDSN has proposed to the Ministry of Health a negotiating framework based on principles of co-design and good faith,
along with an implementation approach that is equitable and fair for all providers.
“We are determined that the implementation of the settlement is translated into opportunities to further develop the
work force while ensuring quality and sustainable services for disabled people and their families.”