What is the organisation and working conditions of the long-term care workforce? | New Zealand What is the organisation and working conditions of the long-term care workforce? | New Zealand

15 Sep 2022

In 2017, the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) settlement was agreed between the government and relevant unions following a successful argument in court that caregiver’s pay is less than would be paid to a male with the same skill set in a different occupation, because caregivers are predominantly female (Ministry of Social Development, 2018).

The 2019 report into aged care staffing by the NZNO and E tū Union (New Zealand Nurses Association, Etū, n.d.) outlines significant concerns about working conditions in the ARC sector particularly around unsafe staffing levels and the need to ration care because of this.

Similarly, home support workers face difficulties with their working conditions including:

  • Turnover of workers is still 30%.
  • For many support workers, guaranteed hours have been reduced.
  • Many new workers are employed on minimal permanent hours.
  • Support workers are subsidising their job by not being reimbursed properly for travel time and costs and being requested to provide tools for the job, including their own phone for employers’ use.
  • Many clients’ care times have been slashed – for some clients, what was 30 minutes of care has been reduced to only 15 minutes. We have seen rostered times for medication reduced to just seven minutes.
  • Support workers are often not rostered for travel time nor rest breaks, being told to take rest breaks from clients’ care time. Some eat their meals while driving between clients (Etū, n.d.).

Etū. (n.d.). Let’s bring this home. Available from: https://www.etu.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Lets-bring-this-home-Home-Support-September-2019.pdf.

Ministry of Social Development. (2018). Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Agreement Factsheet. Available from: https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/what-we-can-do/providers/factsheet-pay-equity.pdf.

New Zealand Nurses Association, Etū. (n.d.). In safe hands? How poor staffing levels and rationed care are harming aged care residents and staff. New Zealand Nurses Association.