The Court of Appeal has thrown out an appeal by the Ministry of Health over payments for parents who care for their disabled children.

Parents caring for their disabled children do not receive payment for the work they do and in 2010 the Human Rights Review Tribunal ruled that a ministry policy to pay carers only if they were not related to the patient was discriminatory.

The Ministry of Health went to the High Court, which then also ruled that parents caring for disabled children were eligible for financial support.

But, after another appeal by the Ministry of Heath, the argument reached the Court of Appeal in February.


The Ministry of Health has previously said the potential implications of the decision are far wider than the health and disability sector.

The Ministry of Health appealed the application of the test for a breach of the Bill of Rights which the High Court used to rule in favour of the families.

Testing for the breach first asked whether the claimant group had been subjected to differential treatment or effects when compared with a group in a similar situation, and then whether the treatment had a discriminatory impact.

The High Court ruled that the parents should be compared to those persons who were able and willing to provide disability support services to the ministry.

It then found that being excluded from paid work meant parents had been treated differently because of their family status.

It also found the treatment had a discriminatory impact because of the denial of paid work to the parent.

Today, the Court of Appeal agreed and dismissed the Ministry of Health's appeal.