We are working for pay equity for community social workers
Social Service Providers Aotearoa is currently coordinating the employer response to a pay equity claim against a representative group of five social service providers. In settling the claim we are seeking pay equity and parity with Oranga Tamariki social workers.
We believe there is an urgent need to remedy the pay equity gap in our sector, and that we have an opportunity to achieve pay equity not only for the five employers in the claim, but for the community social services sector as a whole. This includes Iwi social services, kaupapa Māori services, NGO and all community social services.
We believe it is vital that any settlement should be extended to all social workers in the community sector, and that any settlement will require full and fair funding for government-funded services.
There is an urgent need to remedy the pay equity gap for community social workers, and the underfunding that drives that. The current claim provides an unprecedented opportunity for the sector to achieve that.
Achieving a sector-wide solution
Our best chances of success will be with the strength of unity — representing up to a possible 900 providers employing around 4000 people in social work roles in the community sector.
SSPA has taken the lead to co-ordinate the pay equity claim and is committed to seeing this through to a successful settlement. We will keep all providers informed about developments and we will soon be inviting SSPA members and non-members who are employers of people in social work roles to join together with us to ensure our collective voice is heard in the negotiations with government.
Pay equity is vital to everyone in our sector and we have the best chance of achieving this by working collectively and taking a unified approach.
We are seeking pay equity for community social workers and parity with Oranga Tamariki counterparts. A whole-of-sector solution is required: any settlement for the current claim must be applied across the wider sector, not just this representative group.
We are also seeking a clear and streamlined process to address the pay issues facing other social service workers.
Our community social services also need full and fair funding of contracted services, to address the underfunding that has driven the pay equity gap. We are raising this as a separate and related issue alongside the settlement process.
Pay equity must not result in any reduction to social worker numbers and services. Community based social workers play an essential role in supporting child, rangatahi and family and whānau outcomes and we will be ensuring maintenance of services is recognised in the negotiations.
Our bottom line is that there can be no settlement without government funding to pay for it.
Our pay equity team
Brenda Pilott - SSPA Pay Equity Co-ordinator
Brenda Pilott has a longstanding involvement in community services and advocacy, worker representation, pay equity, workforce development and government policy development.
Brenda was the national manager of Social Service Providers Aotearoa from April 2016 to January 2021 and is now contracted by SSPA to co-ordinate the work on pay equity. Previously she was a senior public servant, working in range of social sector areas, including leading cross-government work on family violence and heading policy at the Department of Child Youth and Family Services.
She led the Public Service Association, New Zealand’s largest trade union from 2004 to 2014, including advocating for pay equity for social workers. Her work in the community sector included being a national co-ordinator for women’s refuge and advocating for better resourcing for community and public services.
Brenda was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in the 2021 New Year’s honours, recognising her contribution to community and public services, worker rights and pay equity.
Lynne Sijbrant - Principal, Sijbrant Legal (www.sijbrantlegal.co.nz)
Lynne has been practising as a solicitor in Wellington since 2006 (originally with Russell McVeagh until 2013). She commenced sole practice as Sijbrant Legal in October 2016, predominantly acting for service providers in the wider health and disability sector. She is currently seconded as IHC New Zealand’s in-house Legal Counsel (since 2017).
Lynne is involved on an ongoing basis with pay equity funding and implementation matters across the wider health and disability sector.
She was a key member of the negotiation team representing the home and community sector providers for In-Between Travel and Equal Pay settlements in 2014-2016, working with the Crown, funders, and unions. She then represented mental health and addiction service provider employers in pay equity negotiations for support workers in 2018.
During 2013-2016, Lynne was the in-house General Counsel for Healthcare of New Zealand (supporting 20,000 clients and employing 7,500 employees at the time). In this role, Lynne was a member of the executive leadership team with responsibilities for contract and risk management and legal compliance, as well as filling the Group Privacy Officer role.
Watch a video here launched on Social Workers’ Day 2021, where you can hear Brenda Pilott and others talking about the importance of achieving pay equity and pay parity for NGO social workers.