A legal fight to ensure disability support workers are paid for their time travelling between clients has begun after a case was filed with the Employment Relations Authority this week.

The Service and Food Workers Union this week filed a test case with the Employment Relations Authority, and has asked for the authority to send the case to the Employment Court.

"We believe it is illegal for organisations employing home support workers not to pay them at least the minimum wage for the time they spend travelling between clients,'' Union national secretary John Ryall said.

The test case has been filed in the name of Wellington worker Tamara Baddeley.


"Tamara, and thousands of other home support workers, get paid for the time they spend at a client's house, but not all the time they spend driving from client to client,'' Mr Ryall said.

The workers were paid an allowance for mileage, but were not paid for the time spent travelling.

This was a serious injustice for an already low paid job, he said.

Human Rights Commission Equal Opportunity Commissioner Judy McGregor has backed the union's claim.

The commission sought legal advice from law firm Russel McVeagh, which said there was a good argument that travel time between clients constituted work under the Minimum Wage Act, Mr Ryall said.

Health Minister Tony Ryall today issued a brief statement in response to the union filing its case with the Employment Relations Authority.

"This is a matter between home care employers and home care employees. We are aware different employers have different approaches, and we will be watching how the case progresses.''