16 Feb 2011

Hourly pay for disability sleepovers upheld by court

10:18 pm on 16 February 2011

The Court of Appeal has upheld an Employment Court ruling that sleepovers in disability care homes are work and workers should be paid an hourly wage.

The case was launched in 2007 by the Service and Food Workers Union and the Public Service Association which have welcomed the ruling, saying it is a great day for New Zealand's disability sector workers.

IHC argued in the Employment Court that it could not afford to pay the extra wages and that rest home fees would rise if the ruling was implemented.

But the Court of Appeal ruled that disability support staff are working when doing overnight sleepover shifts and should be paid the adult minimum wage for every hour worked.

PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff says the Government has been under-funding the sector for years and it is time for it to properly fund service providers so they can pay their workers a living wage.

IHC says it is studying the decision before commenting.

Decision 'long overdue'

Disability support worker Phil Dickson is seeking to get paid at least

the minimum wage while doing overnight sleepover shifts and says the court decision is long overdue.

Mr Dickson, who is paid $34 for nine or 10 hours' work, told Checkpoint support workers have to get up during the night to help people who have health conditions such as epilepsy, or when there are emergencies.

He believes they should be fully paid just like other workers on call overnight, such as fire fighters.

Mr Dickson says if support workers were not there, people in care homes would end up dying.