30 Mar 2011

Talks to be held on sleepover payments

11:00 am on 30 March 2011

Unions, government representatives and healthcare providers have agreed to negotiate over sleepover payments for disability support workers.

In February, the Court of Appeal ruled that workers should be paid the minimum wage rate for every hour spent on overnight sleepover shifts, instead of a much lower allowance. It said that included back-pay.

The Government said at the time the ruling would cost it $350 million in back-pay and suggested it might change the law.

The IHC said at the time its future was bleak unless the Government, the key funder of its residential homes, gave it help to reach the wage bill.

Fearing that the Government would change the law to reverse the Court of Appeal decision, the IHC has applied to the Supreme Court for leave to challenge the Court of Appeal's decision.

The PSA is one of the unions that initiated the court case. National secretary Richard Wagstaff says that while they're delighted with the new development, the new talks may not necessarily resolve the issue.

Employment lawyer Peter Cullen says negotiations are the best way forward, while the Council of Trade Unions says it is pleased the matter will be discussed on Friday.