Tukunga pāpāho

Pay equity win for therapists in schools and at Ministry of Education

05 Pou 2024

Therapists in schools will receive a significant pay increase of up to 34% after therapists covered by the pay equity claim voted to accept the proposed settlement.

The claim, raised by NZEI Te Riu Roa in November 2020, recognises the historical undervaluation of their work.

Whangārei occupational therapist, Mary Holgate, says this is a huge achievement for the profession and has been a long time coming.

"We will finally have the ability to attract new staff and retain skilled therapists meaning more students will be able to access one-to-one therapy. Our caseloads will improve, and our workload will become more sustainable. It feels incredible to know that our profession is being valued for the contribution we make to the lives of young people and their whānau.”

A comprehensive investigation conducted by NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education confirmed that the value of the skills, responsibilities and demands of the mahi of therapists covered by the claim had been significantly undervalued because of their gender.

“By correcting the gender-based undervaluation, the skills of therapists across the education sector are recognised,” says Tauranga speech language therapist, Conor Fraser.

“Pay equity means we are fairly compensated for the incredible work we do, not surviving only on our desire to help and support tamariki and whānau.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter says this is a momentous win and was achieved because union members supported and pursued the claim.

“We all want to see our tamariki thrive in their education journey and therapists play a crucial role in supporting students. These proposed settlements go one step further to ensure that historic gender undervaluation stops now.”

The new rates would be effective from 25 May 2023.

Pay equity claims for the education workforce raised by NZEI Te Riu Roa are ongoing, including for teachers, and education advisors.