Progress so far

Latest Updates on the social work Pay Equity Claim  

SSPA’s mahi coordinating the employer response to the pay equity claim for people in social work roles in five community-based social service organisations is continuing. The claim was lodged in August 2019, and progress towards settlement of the claim is making good progress. The claim covers community social workers and others doing the same or similar work. This includes within Iwi social services, kaupapa Māori services, NGO and all community social services.

This page gives an update on the progress made regarding the claim so far, and the validation process happenning throughout June 2022. 

The current status of the pay equity claim (as at June 2022): 

  • Positive progress is being made towards settlement of the claim. We are continuing to work towards our original objectives for the claim: to align pay for people in social work roles in community providers with Oranga Tamariki social workers; and to extend the benefits of a settlement to others in similar roles in the community social services sector. 
  • We are currently in the bargaining stage, with a view to settlement of the claim for the five employers around the middle of 2022. The pre-bargaining stage has been concluded and the employers and the PSA have reached common ground on the matters that will need to be covered in a settlement of the claim.
  • Oranga Tamariki has been named as the lead funding agency on behalf of the government for this claim.  SSPA is working closely with Oranga Tamariki to provide costings and other information and to discuss implementation issues.
  • The timing of any settlement is contingent on two Cabinet papers that are required for funding to be ring-fenced, and then drawn down. This timing is in the control of government. We have provided detailed assumptions and cost modelling that will underpin the first Cabinet paper. The second Cabinet paper will be informed by the information that employers and employees from across the community-based social sector provide through the validation process. 

The validation process  

This is the term used for the process of gathering information to inform the government’s decision regarding any potential extension of the benefits of a settlment in the claim, so that pay equity can be achieved across the wider community-based social sector for people in social work roles, beyond the five employers in the claim. 

SSPA is hopeful that this mahi will lead to a wider sector solution. This work is happening in parallel with completing the current claim. The current claim must be settled before Cabinet can consider extending the benefits of the settlement more broadly.

Extending the benefits of a pay equity settlement to people in social work roles across the community-based social sector will centre on a process called ‘validation’. The process, being led by Te Kawa Mataaho | The Public Service Commission, is about gathering information to inform a decision by Ministers. SSPA, the employer group, and the PSA are working closely with Te Kawa Mataaho in relation to this process of validation.

During the validation process, employers and employees in the sector are able to look at summaries of the work assessments undertaken in the current claim, and decide whether or not the work described is the same as, or substantially similar to their work.

If their work is the same or similar, they can then ‘opt in’ to provide further information and may be involved in any extension of the benefits of the claim. You can view a video of the Employer Webinar relating to the Validation Process here. The follow up Endorsement Survey for Employers is here. It is really important for employers of people in community social work roles to do this survey, so the Government can understand how far the potential extension of any settlement in the claim could and should reach. The Survey closes at 5:00pm on Thursday 16 June. 

With a collective approach, we have a significant opportunity ahead to strengthen our community-based social sector, and in turn, to strengthen whānau and community outcomes. SSPA is strongly encouraging all community-based social service providers who employ people in social work roles to participate in the validation process. 


12 May 2022 - 

This email is to summarise what we covered in the Zui – we hope it’s useful to those who wanted to attend but couldn’t make it, and as a snapshot for those of you who were present.  

Click here to view the invitation from Te Kawa Mataaho | The Public Service Commission to attend the upcoming Validation Process Webinars for employers, plus the links to register to attend.  

What we covered during the Zui  

During our Zui we focused on providing updates on:  

The current status of the pay equity claim that was lodged against 5 NGO employers in 2019.  

Key points here included:  

  • We are working hard to achieve our original objectives for the claim: to align pay for people in social work roles in community providers with Oranga Tamariki social workers; and to extend the benefits of a settlement to others in similar roles in the community social services sector. 
  • The claim covers social workers and others doing the same or similar work. 
  • Oranga Tamariki has been named as the lead funding agency on behalf of the government for this claim. The bargaining strategy was submitted to Oranga Tamariki in March and is expected to be approved in May. Workshops and discussions with the PSA continue on the matters that will need to be covered in a settlement of the claim. 
  • Positive progress is being made. Our pre-bargaining discussions are going well, and we believe we are in a good position to settle the claim around the middle of this year.  
  • The timing of any settlement is contingent on two Cabinet papers that are required for funding to be ring-fenced, and then drawn down. This timing is in the control of government. We have provided detailed assumptions and cost modelling that will underpin the first Cabinet paper. 

The Validation Process to inform the Government's decision about any potential extension of benefits of a settlement in the claim.  

Key points here included:  

  • Planning for a wider sector solution is happening in parallel with completing the current claim, but the current claim must be settled before Cabinet can consider extending the benefits of the settlement more broadly. 
  • Extending the benefits of a pay equity settlement to people in social work roles across the community-based social sector will centre on a process called ‘validation’. The process, being led by Te Kawa Mataaho | The Public Service Commission, is about gathering information to inform a decision by Ministers. SSPA, the employer group, and the PSA are working closely with Te Kawa Mataaho in relation to this process of validation. 
  • During the validation process, employers and employees in the sector will be able to look at summaries of the work assessments undertaken in the current claim and decide whether or not the work described is the same as, or substantially similar to their work. 
  • If their work is the same or substantially similar, they can then ‘opt in’ to provide further information and may be involved in any extension of the benefits of the claim. 
  • Click here to register to attend one of the Webinar sessions being hosted by Te Kawa Mataaho. Registering to attend to be part of this process is important.  

Next steps from here 

In terms of next steps from here regarding the wider community-based social sector, we strongly encourage you to attend one of the upcoming validation process webinars being hosted by Te Kawa Mataaho 

With a collective approach, we have a significant opportunity ahead to strengthen our community-based social sector, and in turn, to strengthen whānau and community outcomes. Thank you for your tautoko of this kaupapa so far, we look forward to continuing to work together.  

Ngā manaakitanga,  

Brenda Pilott
SSPA Pay equity co-ordinator

Dr Claire Achmad
Chief Executive, Social Service Providers Aotearoa


5 May 2022 - 

This email updates you on progress over the past few months on the current NGO and Iwi social work pay equity claim against five social services providers, and efforts alongside that to achieve a sector-wide pay equity solution.

Since the current claim was lodged in 2019, SSPA in its coordination role, together with the five employers involved in the claim, have been working for it to be extended to provide a wider solution to pay inequity in the community-based social services sector. Late last year, Cabinet released decisions that outlined the Government’s response to the challenges for the funded sector arising from the Equal Pay Act process. This provided the solution that allows the benefits of a settlement to be extended. Officials advised us that the current claim and a wider sector solution must be handled separately.

This update summarises progress on the claim since that decision.

We remain focused on two aims:

  • To settle the claim for the five representative providers, with the aim of pay rates for people doing social work roles in the community sector matching those doing similar roles at Oranga Tamariki.
  • To extend the benefits of the claim to people in similar roles in the wider community sector.

Planning for a wider sector solution is happening in parallel with completing the current claim, but the current claim must be settled before Cabinet can consider extending the benefits of the settlement more broadly. Therefore, while settling the current claim and extending the benefits to the wider sector are separate, the extension of benefits has to follow-on from and be based on the claim settlement.

The current claim
Oranga Tamariki has been named as the lead funding agency on behalf of the government for this claim. The bargaining strategy was submitted to Oranga Tamariki in March and is expected to be approved in May. Workshops and discussions with the PSA continue on the matters that will need to be covered in a settlement of the claim.

Legal restrictions limit how much we can say at this stage of the process, but we are making good progress in our pre-bargaining discussions and are in a good position to settle the claim.

The claim could be settled as soon as July, however timing is contingent on two Cabinet papers that are required for funding to be ring-fenced, and then drawn down. This timing is out of our hands.

We are providing Oranga Tamariki with information for the first Cabinet paper, which will set aside funding to allow bargaining to be completed. We have provided detailed assumptions and cost modelling that will underpin this Cabinet paper, and Oranga Tamariki has been kept appraised of the key points of discussion, so these can be represented to Ministers.

This process is important, as there can be no settlement without funding from the government.

The process has involved a tremendous amount of mahi. The workload for the employers involved in the claim has increased substantially over the past two months, as has the requirement for co-ordination and other specialist advice.

A reference group of sector leaders has been convened by SSPA to bring in wider perspectives. This is working well, with input received on topics such as supervision, registration and continuing professional development, the complexity of different funders and funding models, and how funding via provider contracts is passed on to employees.

We acknowledge the ongoing hard work and commitment of the five employers in the current claim and the excellent contribution of the sector reference group members – all drawn from SSPA members. We also acknowledge the ongoing support of the SSPA National Executive, who continue to champion the issue of pay equity in our sector.

The wider sector solution
Extending the benefits of a pay equity settlement to people in social work roles across the community-based social sector will centre on a process called ‘validation’. The process, being led by Te Kawa Mataaho | The Public Service Commission, is about gathering information to inform a decision by Ministers. SSPA, the employer group, and the PSA are working closely with Te Kawa Mataaho in relation to this process of validation.

During the validation process, employers and employees in the sector will be able to look at summaries of the work assessments undertaken in the current claim and decide whether or not the work described is the same as, or substantially similar to their work. If their work is the same or similar, they can then ‘opt in’ to provide further information and may be involved in any extension of the benefits of the claim. All community-based social service employers are strongly encouraged to remain up-to-date with the validation process and to participate, so that you have the option to be covered by the potential extension of the benefits of the claim later on.

Following that process, Te Kawa Mataaho will provide Ministers with information on how much of the sector is doing the same or substantially similar work, and some data on the sector.

Ministers will then make decisions, after the current claim has been settled, about extending the benefits of the settlement to people in social work roles across the community-based social sector.

We are working closely with Te Kawa Mataaho to design the validation process and they will be using our channels to reach providers as part of the process.

More information about the process will be available soon and we urge providers to participate, to have the opportunity to be part of a sector settlement.

Next steps
Following on from the Zui briefing that we are hosting on May 10, we will provide another written update.

We also encourage you to look out for information from Te Kawa Mataaho about the validation process, and to engage in that.

We remain committed to working as a united sector to achieve the best possible outcomes for all and we will continue to keep you updated.

In the meantime, please share this update with other members of your leadership team or peers who may not yet be on our mailing list. And please encourage any SSPA Chief Executives (as well as CEOs/leaders from other community-based social service provider organisations) who are not on our mailing list to sign up via the form on our website at sspa.org.nz/pay-equity.

Nā māua noa, nā 

Brenda Pilott
SSPA Pay equity co-ordinator

Dr Claire Achmad
Chief Executive, Social Service Providers Aotearoa


20 December 2021 - 

As 2021 comes to a close, this is what is happening:

  • The Cabinet paper: The release in November of the Cabinet paper, Pay Equity for the Funded Sector, was a significant milestone, which we believe will improve how future pay equity claims in our sector will be managed. As the current claim is well-advanced, we are working with Oranga Tamariki and the Public Service Commission Te Kawa Mataaho to look at how we can adapt some of the new processes as we progress the current claim.  You can read the Cabinet Paper here.
  • Separation of claims: Since the current claim against five representative employers was lodged in 2019, we have been working for the settlement to be extended, to provide a wider solution to pay inequity in the social services sector. However, following the release in November of the Cabinet paper outlining the Government’s process for future pay equity claims in the funded sector, officials have advised us how the current claim and a wider sector solution will be handled, in line with the decisions that Cabinet has made.  Planning for a wider sector solution will happen in parallel with completing the current claim, but the current claim must be settled first.  We are confident that the settlement of the current claim will be quickly followed by a wider sector solution, and this remains SSPA’s a central to SSPA’s focus, advocating for the wider sector. 
  • The current claim: The five employers in the current claim are in pre-bargaining discussions with the PSA and will begin formal bargaining next year. The timing of bargaining depends on further Cabinet decisions regarding contingency funding for the costs of settlement.  Once bargaining begins there will be legal restrictions on how much information we can share. However, we will set up a small reference group of employers outside the claim, so that the bargaining team can draw on wider perspectives, recognising that the settlement of the current claim will be the basis for a subsequent wider sector solution.
  • The wider sector solution: The process ahead will centre on testing whether the work assessment done for the workers in the claim accurately captures the work of people doing social work in other organisations. This investigation will be a separate but parallel process led by the Public Service Commission Te Kawa Mataaho, working closely with SSPA, the PSA and others. Government officials will be gathering information, consulting with the sector, and making recommendations to Ministers.  We will be urging government to agree to extend the benefits of a settlement as soon as possible after the claim is settled.  SSPA, as the key peak body, will continue to take a lead role in advocating for the sector and providing guidance and advice. We will be working closely with officials and with the PSA to support the best possible outcome for the sector as a whole. 
  • The scope of the claim: The current claim applies to ‘workers performing social work, however their position is titled and whether registerable or not’. The Equal Pay Act 1972 S13W(1) refers to a claim also applying to employees that ‘perform work that is the same as, or substantially similar to, the work to which the claim relates’. To help define which roles are in scope, we have now completed additional assessments for roles that are not labelled or described as “social workers” but may be within the scope of the claim.
  • Next steps: The first half of next year is going to be critical. We will be completing an extensive modelling exercise to determine the costs of settling the current claim, as well as implementation costs. We will also be seeking sign-off on the bargaining strategy for the current claim and entering into settlement negotiations - working hard to reach the best possible settlement as soon as we can. We have already begun pre-bargaining discussions with the PSA.  Work will be happening in parallel to investigate and advise ministers on any extending the benefits of a settlement to others in the sector.

The process to reach this point has involved a tremendous amount of effort by many, and we would like to acknowledge the progress that has been made. This has included completing work assessments and validating that community social workers do comparable work with other social workers; assessing the size of the pay equity gap; developing our bargaining strategy; pre-bargaining talks; contributing to the Cabinet paper; and sector engagement and advocacy.  In particular, we want to acknowledge the huge commitment of time and energy by the CEOs of the five providers in the claim: Barnardos, Christchurch Methodist Mission, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services, Stand Tū Maia and Wellington Sexual Abuse Help.

None of this work would be possible without the ongoing commitment and support of the SSPA National Executive and the SSPA national office team. 

We also acknowledge the constructive engagement we have had with the PSA and with government officials, especially those from Oranga Tamariki and the Public Service Commission Te Kawa Mataaho. 

Over two years on from the claim being lodged, we remain committed to working as a united sector to achieve the best possible outcomes for all people in social work roles across our community-based social sector. We will continue to keep you updated on progress over the first half of 2022.

In the meantime, please share this update with other members of your leadership team or peers who may not yet be on our mailing list.  And please encourage any social services provider Chief Executives/organisation leaders who are not on our mailing list to sign up via the form on our website at sspa.org.nz/pay-equity.

You can also find more information about the claim on our website, and you are welcome to email us with your questions anytime at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Nāku māua noa, nā

Brenda Pilott

SSPA Pay equity co-ordinator

 

Dr Claire Achmad

Chief Executive, Social Service Providers Aotearoa


30 November 2021 - We continue to work at pay equity for NGO and Iwi social workers and provide this update as of November 2021.  Please feel free to share it with anyone who may be interested, and to get in touch if you have further questions. We are committed to working as a united sector to achieve the best possible outcomes for all.

This is what has been happening since we last provided an update:

  • The bargaining strategy: We have made good progress in developing our bargaining strategy for the five employers in the current claim. Before bargaining can begin, the Public Service Commission (PSC) needs to confirm that our bargaining strategy is reasonable and has met the legislative requirements for pay equity negotiations. This includes providing information about the scope of the claim, what it would take to correct the pay equity gap, and an implementation plan. While the bargaining strategy applies to the five employers in the current claim, it is being written with the extension to a wider-sector solution in mind.
  • Timetable: We are starting to plan the bargaining with the PSA for the current claim. We will be meeting soon to set out a timetable for bargaining. We are having some pre-bargaining discussions to share our thinking on a number of topics. The first of these sessions is on 7 December and will look at how we might structure a remuneration framework reflecting pay equity.  We expect the formal bargaining to begin shortly after the bargaining strategy is confirmed.  
  • The scope of the claim. The current claim applies to ‘workers performing social work, however their position is titled and whether registerable or not’. The Equal Pay Act 1972 S13W(1) refers to a claim also applying to employees that ‘perform work that is the same as, or substantially similar to, the work to which the claim relates’. Further discussion is needed to define which roles are within this scope. We have provided a discussion paper to Oranga Tamariki and the PSC, and we are meeting shortly to discuss this with them. We are also doing some additional role assessments for roles that are not primarily filled by social workers but may be within the scope of the claim. This includes looking at what the roles involve and the skills required, to assess the degree to which they are the same as or substantially similar to the role of social workers.
  • The wider sector solution: Further work is required to look at how any settlement for the five representative employers could be extended to the wider community social services sector, including how a settlement could be implemented and who could be eligible. This will be the subject of ongoing conversations with the government and is likely to be coordinated by the PSC. We will keep you informed about this important matter.

We will continue to keep working on this project and keep the sector updated on progress over the next few months. In the meantime, please share this information with other members of your leadership team or peers who may be interested in this information.  And please encourage any social services provider Chief Executives who are not on our mailing list to sign up via the form on our website at sspa.org.nz/pay-equity.

You can also find more information about the claim on our website, and you are welcome to email us with your questions anytime at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Ngā manaakitanga,

Brenda Pilott  SSPA Pay Equity Icon Orange

SSPA Pay equity co-ordinator

 

Dr Claire Achmad

Chief Executive, Social Service Providers Aotearoa

 


Background: Key information about the pay equity claim process so far

  • In 2019, the PSA lodged a pay equity claim against five employers of social workers: Barnardos, Christchurch Methodist Mission, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services, Stand Tū Maia and Wellington Sexual Abuse Help.
  • The claim was triggered by the 2018 settlement of the Oranga Tamariki pay equity claim. This has widened the pay gap between Government and community social workers and others who support the delivery of social services.
  • A complex review and bargaining process is progressing. We have completed much of the groundwork, including validating that community social workers do comparable work with other social workers and assessing the size of the pay equity gap. We are now finalising our bargaining strategy, the final step before we begin bargaining for the current claim.
  • We are raising the need for full and fair funding of government-funded services as a separate but related issue alongside the claim settlement process.
  • The PSA, SSPA and the five employers in the claim agree it is vital that any settlement of this claim be extended to all community social workers. It is therefore seen as a representative claim on behalf of the whole sector.
  • It is expected that a sector-wide solution will need to be agreed with the Government in order for pay equity to be addressed for all community social workers. Any such solution is likely to be implemented through the contracting process with funders, with related funding to flow via the employers through to employees via employment contracts.

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