7 Aug 2018

Nurses latest pay offer accept: What you need to know

4:53 pm on 7 August 2018

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has accepted the latest pay offer from their DHB employers. Here's what you need to know.

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NZNO spokesperson Cee Payne. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The offer ratified today was the fifth from DHBs, worth at least $520 million.

This marks the end of the row over renewal of the multi-employer collective agreement.

It follows a day-long strike last month and nearly a year of negotiations between both sides for 30,000 nurses in public hospitals and 20 DHBs.

Two significant changes to this pay offer:

A new paystep at the top of the pay scale, called 'Step 7', will now be implemented on 4 May 2020, 12 months after Step 6 is implemented and in line with the general salary progression in the collective agreement (MECA).

The previous offer had the implementation date of 1 August 2020 and was outside the term of MECA.

What this means for wages:

Nurses will get three pay increases over the next 18 months.

  • Senior nurses, midwives and nurse practitioners: Total of 13.6 percent increase by 5 August 2019 for those on the top step of each grade.
  • Community nurses and midwives: 12.6 percent increase by 5 August 2019 for those on the top step of each grade.
  • Registered nurses and midwives: 12.5 percent increase by 5 August 2019 for those on Step 6 and 15.9 percent by 4 May 2020 for those who move to Step 7.
  • Enrolled nurses: Total of 12.5 percent increase by 5 August 2019 for those on Step 4.
  • Health care assistants and hospital aides: Total of 12.4 percent by 5 August 2019 for those on Step 5.


A national framework will be implemented to provide in "plain language" bi-monthly updates to each local nursing and midwifery workforce. This will provide transparency for teams to monitor safe staffing and progress of CCDM.

What is the CCDM?

The Care Capacity Demand Management (CCDM) is a hospital staffing programme that helps DHBs match demand for services with resources.

The Nurses Organisation said this means the right number of staff with the appropriate skills are in the right place at the right time and have the appropriate resources to meet patient needs.

What are some of the other points in the DHBs offer?

  • A one-off payment of $2000 to members employed by DHBs as of today. This is prorated and calculated on actual hours worked in the past 12 months for casuals and part-timers up to one full-time equivalent (FTE). The payment is equivalent to 3 percent of the current Step 5.
  • Additional funding to DHBs to engage staff dedicated to the implementation and development of safe staffing and the CCDM programme.
  • A commitment to pay equity by the end of next year.

'Our member's voices have been heard and action will be taken' - NZNO

  • There was exceptionally high voter turnout and a significant majority voted in favour of the offer.
  • Union spokesperson Cee Payne said the ability to recognise pay equity, on top of the new negotiated pay rates was significant and "will address the historic undervaluation of women's work in our country".
  • NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said nurses needed to continue to speak up so their voices and issues could be heard, listened to and actioned.
  • She said there was still much to do to secure decent pay and safe staffing for nurses in the primary healthcare sector, in the Māori and iwi provider nurses, in aged care and in private hospitals.
  • The union will now work with DHBs to implement the deal.
  • The nurses organisation recommended the offer to its members.

'We as a government are committed to addressing the concerns that still exist over time'

The government has welcomed the settlement. Here's how Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark reacted to the news.

Jacinda Ardern:

  • Ms Ardern said what came to the fore in negotiations was a nine year period of frustration for nurses.
  • She acknowledged the deal was part of a first step towards fixing the health system and years of neglect.
  • "While I know there will be some who think we haven't gone far enough, and I understand that, this is a historic deal in terms of size but in terms of quality and the importance of such deals should not be underestimated."
  • She said the deal would mean 500 new nurses, the introduction of new pay steps, and was double what was offered under the National government.
  • The offer acknowledged the essential services nurses provided and that they deserve a safe working environment, she said.
  • "We as a government are committed to addressing the concerns that still exist over time," Ms Ardern said.

David Clark:

  • Dr Clark described it as a "testing and challenging process".
  • During the press conference he thanked DHB staff who he says have continued to provide an exceptional service during the "years of neglect".
  • "The big thing that's changed between this vote and the last is the government's commitment to oversee the safe staffing arrangements," he said.

What is the Accord?

  • "The accord lays out a process that will see a focus on retaining nurses, on attracting nurses back to the work force but also opens up conversations whether in future we make sure that there's a guaranteed training place for every nurse that completes their formal education, just as we have currently for doctors who go through training," Dr Clark said.
  • "Every year we train about 1500 nurses and around 500 of those are not placed immediately," he said.
  • He said while its always been this way, it was sensible to look at whether nurses should be placed straight away.
  • The accord was a way to make sure that the 500 nurses actually make it into wards to ease pressure on other staff, Ms Ardern said.

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