Family Carers get $2200 pay rise, government to expand scheme

Family Carers get $2200 pay rise, government to expand scheme

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Wellington, January 19, 2020

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa (File Photo)

Staff Reporter (Indian Newslink)
Wellington, January 19, 2020

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa announced today an annual average pay rise of $2246.40 for funded family carers, in addition to expanding the Scheme to include spouses and parents of young children with ‘high or very high needs.’

Announcing the details, she said, “The details of big changes to Funded Family Care (FFC) include (a) higher rates for qualified family carers (b) expanded eligibility of the Scheme to include spouses and parents of young children with high or very-high needs and (c) removing the requirement for an employment relationship between family members if the concerned families did not want it.”

Ms Salesa said that caring for family members such as a spouse or child is one of the most valuable contributions anyone can make in our society, especially when that work requires giving up things like paid employment.

“Our Government has listened to the concerns of family carers about the limits of the current scheme and we have committed to making it fairer,” she said.

About the Scheme

Funded Family Care is for eligible people with high and very-high needs relating to disability provided by the Ministry of Health (through the Disability Support Service) or District Health Boards (DHBs). It is also for clients with disability (Ministry) or long term chronic health condition, mental health and addiction, and aged care needs (DHBs).

Family carers under District Health Board policies are currently employed by providers, and hence already receive pay rates consistent with the wider care and support workforce as a result of the pay equity settlement.

Changes to Funded Family Care eligibility apply to both Ministry of Health and DHB policies.

Minimum wage calculations are based on April 1, 2020 minimum wage of $18.90.

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Key Reforms

Ms Salesa said that the government will (a) enable eligible spouses and partners to receive payment to provide care to people with high or very-high disability support needs (b) expand carer eligibility to 16-18 year-old family members so that they are able to be paid to provide care to people with high or very-high disability support needs (c) expand client eligibility to include under 18-year- olds with high or very-high disability- support needs (d) remove the current requirement for an employment relationship to exist between a disabled person and their resident family member in order to receive FFC (e) repeal Part 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, which currently prevents New Zealanders from taking claims on the basis of unlawful discrimination to the Human Rights Commission or before the courts and (f) lift pay rates for family carers from the minimum wage to $20.50-$25.50 per hour from April 14, 2020.

Details of eligibility

“Family carers will see their pay rates lifted from the current minimum wage to new rates, starting at $20.50 and going up to $25.50, depending on a carer’s qualifications. If a family carer is funded for the average 27 hours per week on the new $20.50 minimum, this change represents a 8.47% pay rise above the minimum wage, or about $2,200 more than they would have got. For family carers funded for 40 hours per week, these reforms mean at least $3,328 more per year. Lifting the Government’s contribution is an important step in the right direction in acknowledging the important work family carers do,” Ms Salesa said.

The new rates align family carers’ pay with those carers employed by formal providers as implemented through the recent care and support workers’ pay equity settlement., she said.

Wage-lifting government

“This is a wage-lifting Government. By the end of our first term we would have lifted the national minimum wage by $126 per week for full time workers. We have begun implementing the living wage across the state sector, and we are delivering a major pay boost to family carers. Improving Funded Family Care with these reforms is also about building a more equitable health system. We know that Maori and Pacific families make greater use of Funded Family Care than other New Zealanders. These changes are about fairness, because carers would be paid these rates if their loved ones with high and very-high needs went through formal providers,” Ms Salesa said.

Discrimination Claims

“We know there has been frustration in the disability community with the very limited scheme introduced under the last Government, and that’s why we have been working with the sector to make Funded Family Care fairer and better for families,” she added.

“In particular, people were very concerned that they were prevented from making discrimination claims on the basis of family status. By restoring the right to make discrimination claims in repealing Part 4A of the Public Health and Disability Act, we are showing that we are serious about treating family carers with the respect they deserve. This is an important symbolic change for the disability and carers’ communities and I acknowledge their ongoing advocacy,” Ms Salesa said.

The Key dates
Legislation set to be introduced to Parliament repealing Part 4A: January 21, 2020
First Reading expected: February 2020
Ministry of Health FFC eligibility expanded: April 14, 2020
New pay rates take effect, with all carers lifted to at least $20.50: April 14, 2020
DHB FFC eligibility expanded: End of June 2020
Part 4A Repealed: September 1, 2020

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