DHBs obliged to staff safely in latest offer

October 1, 2021

The latest offer from district health boards, in multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations with NZNO, allows DHBs to be penalised and health services cut back if they are not able to be safely staffed.

The new offer, which followed Employment Relations Authority mediation, also offered a base pay rise of $5800 for all pay scale steps, which included a pay equity advance of $4000 and general increase of $1800. It includes a $7300 lump sum payment, of which $6000 is a pay equity advance.

Pay equity negotiations were expected to be completed by November 30, 2021, and further raise pay rates, NZNO said in a summary of the offer.

NZNO urged members to consider it had been negotiating for 15 months, held 42 sets of talks, run a successful public campaign and strike action and secured an offer which went “beyond public sector guidelines” by providing increases for all members including those earning more than $100,000.

NZNO pressure had also prompted the Government to commit to settling pay equity by November 30 while making advance payments and achieving safe staffing aims.

Meetings to discuss the offer ran from September 27 to October 8, with ratification voting to follow.

NZNO said the staffing element was “significantly better” with a specific definition of an acute staffing shortage, which could be applied to areas without safe staffing tool care capacity demand management (CCDM).

If shortages can’t be remedied, service range and volumes must be reduced under the offer.

The offer did “strengthen our existing rights”, requiring delegates to be involved in investigating and correcting staff shortages. It also required DHBs to publicly display whether there was an acute staffing shortage at the start of every shift.

DHBs would be obliged to immediately try to fill vacancies identified by the CCDM calculations, by establishing and advertising the positions, without delay. If ratified, NZNO would run training sessions for members on using the new provisions.

Pay equity negotiations would further lift rates, and be dated back to December 31, 2019. Advances would be subject to a “reconciliation process”. View offer details, including the full ERA recommendation.