Supreme Court gives go-ahead to fair pay case

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The highest court in New Zealand has confirmed it will hear an appeal over the controversial decision to deny respite care workers minimum wage.

Last year, former carer Jan Lowe lodged a claim with the Employment Court, insisting she and other relief workers should be entitled to more than a $75 subsidy for a 24-hour shift.

The Employment Court agreed and ruled that Lowe should receive minimum wage as well as holiday pay and other basic employment rights. The case set a precedent for 35,000 others care workers with similar employment condition.

However, in August of this year, the Employment Court overturned the decision following an appeal but the Ministry of Health and the Capital and Coast DHB.

At the time, major union E tū promised to fight the decision and this week it received confirmation that the case would be heard by the Supreme Court.

“This is a major public policy issue,” says John Ryall, E tū’s assistant national secretary. “These workers do a great job and they’re paid just $3.00 an hour. Someone has got to sort it – either the government or the courts.”

According to Ryall, the case is likely to be heard early next year.

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