Support workers – request for additional employment protections

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety received a request from E tū and the Public Service Association (PSA) unions under section 237A of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA), to include support workers in Schedule 1A of the ERA.

Employee groups listed in Schedule 1A receive additional employment protections in certain restructuring situations, set out in subpart 1 of Part 6A of the ERA.

These protections include the ability for an employee to elect to transfer to a new employer on their existing terms and conditions. For example, if the business they work for is sold, or a contract for services is changed to a different service provider.

Read more about how Part 6A operates(external link) — Employment NZ website

In order to be added to Schedule 1A, certain criteria must be met

The Minister may recommend that the Governor-General adds a category of employees to Schedule 1A, by Order in Council. The Minister must first be satisfied that all 3 of the following criteria are met:

  • The employees are employed in a sector in which restructuring of an employer’s business occurs frequently.
  • The employees have terms and conditions of employment that tend to be undermined by the restructuring of an employer’s business.
  • The employees have little bargaining power.

Next steps 

MBIE has started work to analyse the request and prepare a report for consideration by the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, as set out in section 237A of the ERA.

Read the application documents

MBIE has discussed the request with E tū and the PSA, who have provided an Addendum clarifying aspects of the request. The 2 documents comprise the request and should be read together. Where there are differences between the documents, the Addendum prevails. 

The key difference between the 2 documents is in the definition of the group of employees that the unions request be added to Schedule 1A of the ERA. This is now 'support worker' as defined in the Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Act 2017, which includes:

  • care and support worker
  • mental health and addiction support worker
  • vocational and disability support worker. 

Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Act 2017(external link) — New Zealand Legislation


Last updated: 16 August 2023