The New Zealand government has confirmed a pay increase for 5,000 mental health and addiction support employees, which could see eligible staff earn up to $200 (£103.67) more per week.
New Zealand’s health minister, Dr David Clark, confirmed the pay rise in an announcement last week (25 July 2018). It has been designed to give mental health and addiction support employees the same pay rates as other care and support staff.
The pay increase will be effective from August 2018, backdated to 1 July 2017. Nearly half of affected employees will receive an additional $3 (£1.56) an hour, which equates to an extra $120 (£62.20) a week for full-time employees, before tax deductions. One in five will receive $5 (£2.59) more per hour, which amounts to an additional $200 (£103.67) a week for a 40-hour work week.
The new pay scale, which has been agreed with employers and trade unions, reflects employees’ qualifications and experience. It has been created by extending the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act to include mental health and addiction support staff.
The increase will cost approximately $173.5 million (£89.9 million) in total, and will be implemented over a five year period and funded through increasing Vote Health, the primary source of funding for New Zealand’s health and disability system.
Clark said: “This government is committed to pay equity and lifting wages, particularly for our lowest paid [employees].
“This agreement puts right a problem created by the previous government, which deliberately excluded mental health and addiction [employees] from the Care and Support Workers Settlement. These [employees] often support New Zealanders when they are most vulnerable and they deserve a fair go. This government has delivered that.
“Ensuring our mental health and addiction [employees] are paid what they deserve will help deliver a robust workforce.”