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Home based care workers' irregular hours

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/05/2017

Only a third of home based aged care workers have a guaranteed minimum hours work each week, a survey has found.

The 2016 Aged Care Workforce Survey was released on Wednesday, undertaken by AUT, which confirms the shortage of workers in aged care in New Zealand which was noted in 2014.

Home and community based healthcare assistants appear to have less work and job security than residential aged care workers.

There are also raft of health and safety issues from the 2014 survey which are still problematic, including physical and verbal abuse from patients, emotional distress, workload and environment, and insufficient policy, the authors say.

Almost 1500 responses were counted in the survey, 96 per cent of were women, 82 per cent Pakeha, 13 per cent Maori, with non-NZ European, Pasifika, Chinese and Filipino making up the rest.

At the time of the survey, the minimum wage was $15.25 an hour and more than 46 per cent of respondents earned between $15.26 and $16.99 per hour, 5 per cent earned less than minimum wage, and 36.5 per cent earned exactly the minimum wage.

Over half of respondents were the main income earner in their home.

However, a pay equity settlement was reached that`s expected to give about 55,000 low-paid care workers a large wage increase last month.

Worker's union E tu says the survey paints a picture of an industry "plagued by stress, insecure hours, and inadequate pay".

"Current pay rates in no way reflect how stressful and emotionally draining this important work often is,," home support worker and union delegate Tamara Baddeley said.

She earns $16.15 an hour despite having worked in the industry for 17 years.

""When people find out what we get paid, they wonder why we don't just chuck it in and do something that gives us a better wage and more family time... But we do the job because we enjoy the job and we care about our patients."

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