27 Sep 2018

Pay deal could help Oranga Tamariki keep staff

6:50 am on 27 September 2018

A new $114 million pay settlement could ease Oranga Tamariki's struggle to hire and keep staff.

Oranga Tamariki Rachael Baxter-Mackay, social worker.

Oranga Tamariki social worker Rachael Baxter-Mackay says the pay settlement will help the organisation attract new staff and keep existing staff. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The settlement agreed on Tuesday meant 1300 employees would now receive a pay rise of 30 percent over two years.

Oranga Tamariki's outgoing chief social worker Paul Nixon said social workers were dealing with about 26 children each, when the ideal case load would be 15.

Between 700 to 800 new staff were needed to keep the numbers down, he said.

But one Oranga Tamariki supervisor, Rachael Baxter-Mackay, said the new pay settlement should keep existing staff and attract new staff, who would take three to four years to train.

"We'll maintain the social workers that we've got, we'll be able to increase the knowledge that we've already got ... and we'll be able to pass that down so that the social workers will become more consistent," she said.

A large workload and poor pay in some offices had led to staff burn-out in the past, Ms Baxter-Mackay said.

"I've heard of other offices where turnover has been high, really high case rates, really high workloads ... and if they're not valued where they are, then that becomes too hard, there's no positive in their work environment," she said.

Ms Baxter-Mackay said the pay settlement meant staff would feel valued.

PSA members would now vote on whether to accept the settlement and the result should be known by the end of next month.