30% pay increase for social workers

Oranga Tamariki social workers will get an average pay boost of 30% spread over two years. This has been called  achieving pay equity, but that’s a vague claim. Nevertheless, I think that social work is demanding, very important, and had been grossly underpaid, so this is a meaningful adjustment.

Pay equity near for Oranga Tamariki social workers

Cabinet has agreed to fund a pay equity settlement for Oranga Tamariki social workers, Minister for Children Tracey Martin announced today.

The Minister said that an agreement in principle has been reached between Oranga Tamariki and the PSA on a settlement worth $114.6m over five years.

“I want to acknowledge the efforts of both the Oranga Tamariki and the PSA, who have worked together in good faith to examine the claim and reach agreement.

“This is another demonstration of this Government’s commitment to pay equity for all women in New Zealand. Just a week after we celebrated 125 years of women’s suffrage, this decision recognises a historic gender-based undervaluation of Oranga Tamariki social workers, who perform vital work in keeping children and families safe.”

The pay equity settlement applies to more than 1300 Oranga Tamariki social workers and will see an average lift in their salaries of 30.6% over a two year period.

Oranga Tamariki and PSA will jointly present the settlement to those in scope of the claim, at a series of meetings around New Zealand over the two weeks from October 8.

Oranga Tamariki social workers, who are PSA members, will then vote on whether to accept it.

From a report on 1 News showing social workers and union officials celebrating it seems like it’s a done deal.

PayScale says that the range of current salaries for social workers is NZ$39,580 – NZ$66,440 with a median of $49,853. That isn’t much for a job requiring special skills working in a very demanding field.

The Oranga Tamariki and PSA Pay Equity Working Group has worked closely together since April 2017 to assess the Social Worker pay equity claim and apply the principles agreed by the Joint Working Group in 2015.

So this process of reassessment of wage levels began under the last government and has been completed this term. That’s a common cross-term process.

It is an increase of government expenditure on top of significant increases for nurses, with teachers, police and other sectors also lining up.

I think it is likely to put pressure on private sector social worker employers who will either have to match the increases or risk not attracting and retaining staff. They are mostly taxpayer funded organisations so the Government may have to come to the party there too.

But I think it’s hard to argue with a decent increase for the workers.



Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  25th September 2018

    Sounds reasonable given the job some of them have to do. This pay equity thing is utter bollocks the social workers deserve a decent wage regardless what gender they are so why not just say we value the work you do and here is a monster pay rise.

    • Blazer

       /  25th September 2018

      we know the average house ‘earned’ more every week than the wages these people receive David…very good.

  2. Gezza

     /  25th September 2018

    I’m pleased to hear this – a much undervalued, underpaid, and needed job imo. One social worker commented there are very few men social workers – the workforce is almost entirely female. She hoped that better pay might attract more men into the job, because they’re needed.


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