Home / The Plan / History of the Plan 2015-2020 / Workforce Recognition
The Kaiāwhina contribution to health and disability teams is valued by employers, other professionals, consumers and the community. This will also be reflected in fair and equitable policies and practices.
The Pay Equity Settlements reached during 2017 and 2018 for care and support workers in the health and disability setting, for mental health and addictions workers, and for other groups such as hospital orderlies were the key developments towards achieving the three outcomes in this domain.
Of the ten actions in this domain, six actions have been completed while the remaining four are ‘in progress’ as at 30 June 2020.
The finalising of the Tertiary Review of Qualifications (TRoQ) in 2014, particularly the Level 2 – 4 Health and Wellbeing Qualifications, has provided clarification of the skills, knowledge and attributes Kaiāwhina need to possess at the different role levels at which they work. This NZQA national system has given greater transparency and confidence to the health and disability sector as to the value Kaiāwhina bring into the various settings in which they are employed and has established the core competencies required.
During the COVID-19 response it has been encouraging to see that Kaiāwhina are being recognised and valued as “essential workers”. Their profile has also been raised through media interest in a number of stories covered during Level 4 and Level 3 lockdown. These stories have shown Kaiāwhina supporting their clients/client groups in caring and compassionate ways often at considerable personal cost as they have formed ‘bubbles’ with their clients/residents and thus resulting in separation from their own families for several weeks.
The pay equity settlements of 2016 – 2018, which cover the vast majority of Kaiāwhina within the scope of the settlements, are grounded in a set of principles for establishing ‘pay equity’ as recommended by the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity and endorsed by the State Services Commission (as per their document Pay Equity Principles -Applying the Principles, October 2019). These principles not only set the tone for the settlements but establish guidance for future claims whereby fairness in the terms and conditions of employment is the desired outcome. There is also an expectation that employers will act in a manner that is consistent with the Code of Good Faith outlined in the Employment Relations Act 2000. This applies to DHBs and to those organisations that DHBs hold contracts with (Schedule 1B).
Along with the pay equity settlements which occurred during the period of the Plan there was also the negotiation of the in-between travel settlement and confirmation of the regularisation of working hours (2017). These agreements include payment for time and travel for those Kaiāwhina working in the home and community setting and confirmation that zero-hour contracts are not legal. Every worker needs to have an agreed minimum number of work hours per week/fortnight as a condition of their employment. The regularisation of work hours has been challenging to implement for some employers with work still required for consistent application according to the intent of the settlement.
A significant inclusion in the settlements was the requirement for organisations to support their Kaiāwhina to complete level 2-4 qualifications in agreed timeframes and with salary rates correlated to qualification attainment. While there have been many challenges with implementing the settlements, and with attaining full parity, they have resulted in a significant uplift in terms and conditions and have established a strong legislated platform for recognition of the Kaiāwhina workforce across all settings. In 2018/19 AUT undertook the first survey, in what will be a series of surveys, to provide research evidence on the impact of the settlements. ‘The Value of Care – evaluating the impact of the 2017 pay equity settlement of the aged care, home and community and disability sectors Report’ highlighted the gains and the concerns and provides evidence-based guidance for the future.
There is still further work required to raise the profile of Kaiāwhina and to have the value of their contribution more consistently acknowledged and respected by employers and by other members of the health and disability team within which Kaiāwhina work. While there have been positive acknowledgements of the role and work of care and support workers during COVID-19 there are also stories of the struggle for supply of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to meet their safety needs when working in people’s homes or residential settings. Focussed work on Kaiāwhina being valued as equally important team members in the interprofessional team will need to continue over the next five years building on the momentum achieved
This aligns with the Kaiāwhina Taskforce 2020-2025 Priority 2: Connecting Kaiāwhina;
While the pay equity and in-between travel settlement, along with the requirement for regularisation of working hours, were all big gains over the past five years there are still concerns about a lack of consistency with which they have been applied and this continues to require attention. It is also of note that the current contracts and agreements are reaching their expiry dates and any future agreements need to protect and advance the gains made for Kaiāwhina across the different scopes and settings the agreements cover.
This aligns with the Kaiāwhina Taskforce 2020-2025 Priority 4: Supplying and developing the workforce; Priority 1: Building Cultural Capability
Matters pertaining to pay parity and the consistency of application of employment terms and conditions will continue to benefit from close monitoring and attention. Research studies, such as the survey undertaken by AUT into the impact of the pay equity settlement, will be key in assisting with the advancement of the gains made to date and assessing the areas for improvement.
This aligns with the Kaiāwhina Taskforce 2020-2025 Priority 4: Supplying and developing the workforce; Priority 1: Building Cultural Capability.