The Government has agreed to try to reach a settlement with
care workers over the lack of payment for the time they spend
travelling between clients. The Public Service Association
this week welcomed the decision.
A sector-wide agreement was preferable to the potentially
lengthy test case the union filed on behalf of a member with
the Employment Relations Authority, PSA national secretary
Richard Wagstaff said.
''Some of our members in the home care sector have to drive
600km per week between jobs, but at the moment they are not
paid for this time.
''Workers being paid close to the minimum wage have been
effectively subsidising their employers in this issue, which
has dogged the sector for decades,'' Mr Wagstaff said.
The PSA and other unions would negotiate with the Ministry of
Health, district health boards and providers, he said.
Health Minister Tony Ryall, in an emailed statement
yesterday, said the talks would begin ''shortly''.
Some carers were already paid for travel time, and ''these
negotiations will try to provide greater consistency across
''The Government will contribute to the cost of the
settlement. However, as these are negotiations, we cannot
speculate on the cost.''
Wellington-based Access Homehealth is one of the providers
contracted for home support in the South.
Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe, when contacted
yesterday, said providers wanted a ''meaningful and
appropriate'' solution to the problem.
Resolving the issue would likely involve a funding increase,
but he did not want to pre-empt discussions.