Home support workers to continue receiving higher mileage rate

Dunedin home support workers who transferred from dumped home-care provider Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) will continue to be paid a significantly higher mileage rate than other Access Homehealth workers, the Rural Women New Zealand-owned provider says.

About 24 former PSO workers receive 47c per km, while other Access workers receive 30c.

Mileage rates were yesterday labelled one of the sector's ''huge issues'' by Caregivers and Related Employees union advocate Mike Hanifin.

Mr Hanifin raised concerns his members' 47c mileage rate could be renegotiated to 30c, but this has been rejected by Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe.

Because of carers' relatively low hourly pay, mileage made up a large portion of their wages, Mr Hanifin said.

It was much lower than the Inland Revenue rate of 77c used by public entities such as the Southern District Health Board for direct employees.

''It simply isn't covering the cost for people [of running a vehicle]. Even at the 47 cents our people struggle ...''

''They will be pleased to hear that assurance [from Mr Titcombe],'' Mr Hanifin said. Mr Hanifin did, however, remain concerned by the prospect of workers losing the higher rate.

Mr Titcombe said there were no plans to renegotiate workers' existing conditions.

''We are definitely required to honour their old terms and conditions,'' he said.

It could not afford to bring other workers on to the same rate as it would cost millions of dollars.

The issue of carer mileage rates had become urgent, and must be addressed by the Government, Mr Titcombe said.

''I'm on record on numerous occasions saying that I believe they should be paid substantially higher.''

Access Homehealth is owned by Rural Women New Zealand.

The SDHB dumped PSO as part of a move this year to provide a new ''restorative'' service emphasising independence for clients.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz


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