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NZNO says proposed Pay Equity settlement contrary to Equal Pay Act

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says a legal review of the recently proposed Nursing Pay Equity settlement has concluded the proposed settlement is contrary to the Equal Pay Act 1972.

On 17 September 2021, NZNO and the twenty district health boards signed a settlement which provided that the pay equity pay rates once settled would be back paid to 31 December 2019. This back pay entitlement is an existing contractual term for each member.

The Equal Pay Act provides that a pay equity settlement that contains a term that reduces an employee’s employment agreement entitlements has no effect. The proposed settlement agreement conflicts with this rule as it removes a large part of the contractual back pay entitlement previously agreed.

The purpose of the rule is to prevent settlements under which pay equity increases are offset against existing entitlements.

"On the basis of this advice I have informed the Government, the DHB employers and our fellow union the Public Services Association (PSA) that NZNO does not accept the proposed settlement and that the ratification vote scheduled to commence 20 April has been cancelled."

"We have informed members of this advice and will be consulting with them on next steps, specifically whether they endorse an approach to the Employment Relation Authority to review the legality of the proposed lump sum payment, or whether their preference is to vote on the deal offered, despite it breaching earlier agreements."

He said that he nevertheless fully supports the work of the Pay Equity negotiation team.

"These negotiators, who include NZNO members, were operating under intense pressure in complicated circumstances. They brought to members what they believed was the best possible proposed settlement under those circumstances, and they should be congratulated for their hard work and determination to get the very best result for members after years of delay."

Paul Goulter said these developments would delay implementation of the new pay rates to DHB employees but he reiterated that NZNO will go hard to see that any eventual DHB base rates are extended to all sectors of nursing, including primary health care (e.g. medical centres), aged care, and particularly Māori and iwi providers.

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