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Union to challenge minimum wage ruling

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/08/2016

Kapiti support carer Janet Lowe's bid to be paid the minimum wage is set to go to the Supreme Court.

The E Tu union says it will be challenging a Court of Appeal decision that overturned an Employment Court ruling.

Union assistant national secretary John Ryall says the appeal court's decision left 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," he said.

"These workers do a great job and they're paid just $3 an hour. Someone has got to sort it - either the government or the courts."

For five years, Ms Lowe received a $3 an hour subsidy as a disability support worker, relieving primary family care-givers who looked after disabled relatives.

Last year, she won a landmark Employment Court case that determined she was entitled to receive the minimum wage of $14.25 for her work.

However, the Court of Appeal on Monday said there were issues over whether Ms Lowe was a "homeworker" employed by the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board.

Three justices agreed that she was not an employee, noting that neither appellant had any role in selecting the relief carer.

They also found Ms Lowe had some autonomy in her role, which was inconsistent with that of an employee, and to classify her as such would have broader ramifications.

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