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Nurses Furious At Te Whatu Ora Holidays Act Remediation Pay Delays

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Toputanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) members employed by Te Whatu Ora are furious after almost eight years of delay in their employer’s failure to fix $1.95b worth of unpaid holiday pay and other leave they are owed.

Every Te Whatu Ora district failed to meet the requirements of the Holidays Act, but to differing degrees, so while some members will receive very little, others will be getting payouts of tens of thousands of dollars, dating back to 2010.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said NZNO’s Te Whatu Ora members have been dangled promise after promise about when the payments will be made, only to have their hopes dashed by one delay and excuse after another, year after year.

"Last year Te Whatu Ora said dates for payment by the various Te Whatu Ora regions would be confirmed in January which was revised yet again. We were then promised definitive payout dates would be provided on 9 February this year, but heard nothing on the day.

"At a meeting with Te Whatu Ora yesterday (14 February) we were informed that final dates would be provided in the next fortnight, but not for all regions.

"They’ve had eight years to put this right while monetary amounts devalue and while our members struggle with the cost of living as much as anybody else. No wonder our hospital nurses feel devalued and want to go work overseas."

He said NZNO would be lodging a complaint with Minister of Health Hon Dr Shane Reti.

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"Justice delayed is justice denied, and this is at a time when we face unprecedented safe staffing issues because we can’t find enough nurses. How can Te Whatu Ora think this is even remotely acceptable.

"Unfortunately the people of Aotearoa New Zealand suffer because of this as nursing staff leave the profession in New Zealand and our communities are faced with the consequences."

More information

The Labour Inspectorate of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment identified in 2016 that there were issues with DHB (now Te Whatu Ora) payroll systems and its compliance with the Holidays Act. These meant that some employees weren’t receiving anywhere near their correct leave entitlements.

The NZ Council of Trade Unions wrote to the DHBs in May 2016 proposing a process to review DHBs’ compliance with the Holidays Act and to take a national approach to resolving issues of non-compliance. The then DHBs, now Te Whatu Ora regions, continue to work through the process at varying rates, but at a rate that NZNO considers unjust and harmful to the wellbeing of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

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