9 May 2024

ACC proposes cutting more than 300 jobs

5:04 pm on 9 May 2024
ACC - Accident Compensation Corporation generic image

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ACC is proposing to cut more than 300 roles as part of cost saving measures.

It is proposing a reduction of 390 roles, of which 81 are vacant, in areas that sit outside the client-facing teams.

This equates to a proposed 9 percent reduction of its total workforce.

"W're also proposing to invest in 65 new roles that support the delivery of our services to New Zealanders, and our board has also endorsed a plan to reinvest some of the proposed savings in approximately 250 additional client-facing roles. The exact nature of these roles is yet to be finalised," ACC chief executive Megan Main said.

If you have been affected by job cuts or have documents contact hamish.cardwell@rnz.co.nz

That would bring the net total of roles lost to 325.

"We recognise that times of uncertainty and change can be difficult, and we have several support pathways available to our people through our Employee Assistance Programme and wellbeing resources. We're working as hard as we can to provide certainty for all our people as soon as possible," Main said.

The organisation was not given a specific savings target from the government, but was asked to "deliver material savings", so decided to cut operational costs by 6.5 percent over the next financial year.

While its funding comes from levies and earnings from its Investment Fund, that is still public money and the organisation must play its part to make savings, Main told RNZ last month.

"Our objective isn't just to save money, we want to make sure we are directing our efforts towards working smarter to help our kiritaki (clients) get better faster," she said.

"We also want to ensure we can invest in the things that will have the greatest impact for the scheme and for New Zealand."

Two business units are proposed to be disestablished, Enterprise Change Delivery, which includes information systems, technology, and analytics services, and Prevention and Partnerships which leads its injury prevention strategy and its partnerships with levy payers.

Two new business groups were proposed to be established; System Commissioning and Performance, which would be responsible for "health pathway design, rehabilitation system redesign and strategic commissioning of services" and Technology & Data, which will ensure ACC has secure platforms and products enabling a "modern and connected workforce".

It was focusing on becoming more efficient by removing duplication, limiting expenditure and stopping work that's not closely connected to improving client outcomes, Main said.

Client-facing teams were not affected, she said.

"We are committed to ensuring this process does not negatively impact our ability to deliver our core services of injury prevention and supporting people if they've had an accident."

An ACC employee has told RNZ the announcement was delivered via an email, including a 90-page document and a pre-recorded video from Main.

That was "cowardly", they said.

"We knew it was coming but [it] has been delivered as an email as opposed to a talk through from the senior leadership team," they said.

Affected staff were told prior to the organisation-wide announcement. But people were not happy with the way it had been communicated to the organisation on Thursday, they said.

'We will all pay the price for years to come'

The Public Service Association said it was alarmed by the cuts - which included 29 roles dedicated to injury prevention - at a time when the number and cost of injuries was rising.

"This is an absolutely vital area dealing with workplace safety, prevention of sexual violence, and road safety," PSA assistant secretary Fleur Fitzsimons said.

"This work is all about ensuring accidents and injuries don't happen in the first place. A government so focused on reducing costs and 'better outcomes' should be investing more in these areas, not less."

Fitzsimons said it made no sense to cut so many jobs when the organisation was already under so much pressure to look after those who were injured.

"This is just more dumb stuff forced on ACC by the government's spending cuts. We will all pay the price for years to come with more accidents, injuries and harm."

Labour's ACC spokesperson Rachel Boyack said the government had its priorities "all wrong".

"Cutting almost 10 percent of ACC's workforce will take New Zealand backwards and put strain on a vital service that people rely on," Boyack said.

"We have a world-class ACC system and Kiwis expect they should be able to pick up the phone and receive support. Hundreds of thousands of people each year make claims for their injuries."

Labour spokesperson for prevention of family and sexual violence Ginny Andersen said: "ACC is the lead agency for a number of actions under Te Aorerekura, Aotearoa's first National Strategy and Action Plan to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence."

Andersen said she was appalled that roles dealing with sexual violence were on the chopping block.

"ACC has a four-year work stream to establish a sexual violence primary prevention approach. With one in five New Zealand adults experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime, what happens to this work now is hugely important," she said.

"The minister has been briefed and should understand the size of the problem in New Zealand. Most investment is spent dealing with the consequences after serious harm has occurred, but we must invest in prevention as well."

Final decisions would be announced on 26 June with the new structure proposed to be in place on 9 September.

DOC Cuts

It comes as the Department of Conservation is proposing to halve its workforce on the Chatham Islands.

DOC has proposed to cut year-round staff on the islands from 11 to five, and merge the office with the Wairarapa district.

DOC deputy director-general regional operations Henry Weston said budget savings were not a factor in the change.

He said staff feedback had indicated the islands' remote location, about 800km east from mainland New Zealand, had created challenges which were having a negative impact on their wellbeing.

But the Public Service Association said the proposal risked impacting front-line conservation efforts.

The proposal is out for consultation with staff, with a final decision due by the end of the month.

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