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Social Service Workers Pay Equity Claim: Introductory Overview

This document provides an overview of the pay equity claim, the stage it is currently at and where you can keep up-to-date with progress on the claim.

Pay equity settlement reached for people in community-based social work roles

On 25 October 2022, Cabinet approved and funded settlement of the PSA’s pay equity claim against five representative employers of community-based social workers. The pay equity settlement addressed the undervaluation of ‘workers performing social work’ at Barnardos, Christchurch Methodist Mission, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services, Stand Tū Māia and Wellington Sexual Abuse Help, the five organisations that the claims were lodged against. 

The settlement introduced a new pay structure with a 15-step scale. A single pay ‘spine’ covers all roles within the scope of the PSA’s pay equity claim, with pay bands reflecting different categories of work.

The pay scale is aligned to pay rates for social workers at Oranga Tamariki, as the comparator organisation. The average increase across the claim is significant, at 36%.

In line with the Oranga Tamariki approach, progression through the pay bands will be on the basis of time and experience in the roles covered by the settlement. The settlement also includes funding to cover costs of social worker registration, professional development and supervision.

Extending the social work settlement

SSPA, together with the PSA and the five organisations the social work claim was lodged against, has always been clear: any settlement reached must be for all community-based social work kaimahi. So we strongly welcomed the Government’s historic announcement on 24 November 2022, that a pay equity extension would happen for all community-based social work roles throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, extending the terms of the settlement in the claim to all people in social work roles who are working in the community, across Iwi, Kaupapa Māori, Pacific and NGO social service organisations.

"This is a major win for our community-based social services. This will make a tangible difference for tauwhiro, and strengthen their work with children, rangatahi and whānau. The decision sends a strong message that the essential mahi of social work is valued and recognised."
- Dr Claire Achmad, SSPA CEO, 24 November 2022, at the announcement of the pay equity extension at Parliament

From late 2022 to early 2023, community-based employers of people in social work participated in one of the largest data collection processes that has ever happened across the social sector, to inform the quantum and scope of the pay equity extension. Te Kawa Mataaho The Public Service Commission led this mahi, with the support of the PSA and SSPA. The strong, collective effort of employers and kaimahi across our community-based social services led to the pay equity extension being confirmed by Cabinet in June 2023, and the new pay rates for the social work roles covered by the extension are effective from 01 July 2023, meaning pay equity for over 5000 social work kaimahi – an amazing outcome to be celebrated!

Social services and social work leaders, SSPA leadership, the PSA and friends celebrate the historic announcement of the pay equity extension at Parliament, 24 November 2022.

Got questions about implementing the pay equity extension?

Te Kawa Mataaho’s Pay Equity Taskforce team can still be reached at if you have technical pātai about implementing the extension in your organisation. If you feel more comfortable to direct your question to us at SSPA, contact us at

Continuing to champion pay equity across our community-based social services

SSPA is continuing to act as the sector coordinator for the second pay equity claim relating to a wider group of community-based social services kaimahi. This claim is in its early stages of being progressed by the PSA, and SSPA is closely involved in the mahi. There are eight social service providers involved in the claim, all of which are SSPA members. Brenda Pilott ONZM is acting as SSPA’s Pay Equity Coordinator for the social services claim.

We will share updates on this page as the claim progresses, but for now, if you have pātai about the social service workers pay equity claim, contact us at