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E tu appealing Court of Appeal ruling on respite home care workers

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

E tū will be challenging a Court of Appeal ruling which reverses an Employment Court decision granting basic employment rights to respite homecare workers.

Respite workers are paid $75.00 for a 24 hour shift, caring for the disabled while their primary carers take a break.

Former respite worker, Jan Lowe took a case to the Employment Court, which found she was an engaged worker and therefore entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay.

However, the Court of Appeal has overturned that ruling, following an appeal by the Ministry of Health and the Capital and Coast DHB.

The Court of Appeal found Jan was not engaged by the Ministry of Health, which pays the respite care subsidy, nor the DHB which assesses patients for respite care eligibility.

E tÅ«’s Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall says the union will be taking the case to the Supreme Court.

He says the Appeal Court decision leaves the country’s 35,000 mainly female respite care workers without basic employment conditions and paid a pittance.

"This is a major public policy issue. These workers do a great job and they’re paid just $3.00 an hour. Someone has got to sort it - either the government or the courts", he says.

"While the Court of Appeal has said that the state agencies do "engage" these workers, they have left open whether the union should be suing the primary caregivers, or even the people with disabilities being supported.

"It is time the Government took responsibility for this mess. They benefit from the poverty payments made to these workers and should immediately negotiate with the union for a long-term solution."

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