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Care Workers Deserve A Proper Wage Boost, And Government Needs To Fund It

Comment by Peter Reynolds, CEO New Zealand Disability Support Network

“The government’s below-inflation minimum wage increase will make life harder for disability care and support workers, for disability support providers to recruit staff and ultimately the disabled Kiwis they care for,” said New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds.

Disability support providers deliver much-needed support to hundreds of thousands of Kiwis with varying levels of disability each year. Some care and support workers are on the minimum wage, while others on are on a higher pay increment because of qualifications and experience in the sector. The Government sets the minimum wage, provides the funding for disability support and sets the pay rates for care and support workers.

“This minimum wage increase is pitiful, and will make it harder for our sector to attract workers. The situation will only be worse if the Government then fails to give providers funding to the additional cost.”

“Disability support providers want to pay care and support workers more, but can’t without the Government’s help. They fund the sector. They need to ensure there’s money available to meet both the small minimum wage increase, and its on-flows to more experienced workers. Without more funding, disability providers will be forced to cut frontline services.”

“We’ve already seen the care and support workers’ pay equity deal stall for the last six months, as the Government apparently baulks at the cost of giving frontline workers a fair wage. We can’t have yet more cost foisted on disability providers without the accompanying funding increase from the Government.”

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“Roughly 11% of the care and support worker workforce are paid at the lowest level, equal to the minimum wage rate. While the government has announced the miserly increase of 2% to the minimum wage, they remain silent on whether that will be passed on to those care and support workers. This risks workers either being paid beneath the new minimum wage, or job and support cutbacks,” says Reynolds.

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