The New Zealand Aged Care Association has welcomed findings from a Human Rights Commission report that recommends increasing government funding by up to $140 million to support pay parity for caregivers with staff employed by district health boards.
NZACA chief executive Martin Taylor said the organisation had been lobbying the Government for six years to increase caregiver wages to bring them up to the level of those employed by district health boards.
The Human Rights Commission's Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor released a report into aged care after working undercover in a rest home.
The report found a breach of the human rights of 48,000 workers, who were being paid an average of $14.50 an hour while healthcare assistants in hospitals earned up to $5 an hour more.
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The report called on the Government to address disparities between the pay rates of aged care workers in the community and those in hospitals and found New Zealand would need 70 per cent more workers in an industry that had a 25 per cent staff turnover each year.
Ms McGregor made 10 recommendations, including phasing in pay increases over three years until community-based workers were paid the same as those paid directly by district health boards.
But Prime Minister John Key said today the Government had other health sector priorities and did not have the cash to address the disparity.
The Government would consider it when it reached a surplus in 2014.
Mr Taylor welcomed that promise, saying New Zealand needed to look to the long term.
"We will need to increase the number of caregivers in this industry to ensure that we are prepared for the coming decades, and pay parity is a key component to ensure that this achievable."
He said the wage gap had increased by 28 per cent since 2005.