E tū is taking its case for fair pay for respite home carers to New Zealand’s highest Court.
Respite carers earn $75.00 for a 24-hour shift, caring for the sick and disabled while their primary carers take a break.
The Supreme Court has granted leave for E tū to appeal a Court of Appeal ruling which reversed an Employment Court decision granting these carers basic employment rights.
E tū took the case on behalf of former respite worker, Jan Lowe, with the Employment Court finding she was an engaged worker and thus entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay.
However, that was overturned by the Court of Appeal, following an appeal by the Ministry of Health and the Capital and Coast DHB.
The Court of Appeal found Jan was not engaged by the Ministry of Health, which pays the respite care subsidy, nor the DHB which assesses patients for respite care eligibility.
E tū’s Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall says the union is pleased the Supreme Court is taking up the issue.
He says the Appeal Court decision left the country’s 35,000 mainly female respite carers without basic employment conditions and paid a pittance.
“This is a major public policy issue. These workers do a great job and they’re paid just $3.00 an hour. Someone has got to sort it – either the government or the courts,” he says.
“Despite today’s decision, it is time the Government took responsibility for this mess. They benefit from the poverty payments made to these workers and should immediately negotiate with the union for a long-term solution.”