The NB Coalition for Pay Equity is shocked to learn that home support workers’ retroactive pay equity adjustments for 2012-2013 have been reduced to pay for employer mandatory payroll costs such as contributions to EI, CPP and vacation pay.
“Home support workers should not be forced to shoulder the financial responsibilities of their employers. It’s absolutely unacceptable,” said Vallie Stearns, Chair of the NB Coalition for Pay Equity.
According to the provincial government, home support workers should earn at least $13.15 an hour. From 2011 until now, the Department of Social Development has only required employers to pay $11.00. After conducting job evaluations in the home care sector, the Women’s Equality Branch promised pay equity adjustments of $2.15 in total. Unfortunately, for home support workers, these pay equity adjustments were to be spread over 5 years, amounting to increments of only 43 cents an hour per year, starting in April 2012. The government began to distribute pay equity installments for 2012-2013 in June this year – over a year late.
The delay was already hard enough for the workers, but now they just found out that the government will allow employers to keep $0.06 out of their $0.43 per hour to pay for employer payroll costs.
Many home support workers are reluctant to speak out because they are afraid to lose their jobs. Nevertheless their reaction has been strong: “My employer received a cheque for her employees and of that amount, 14% went to her… That makes absolute no sense to me at all,” one of them said. “This is our money. The government is ripping us off,” said another. “Yet another proof that nothing has changed and that no government is listening.”
“It is bad enough that the government is spreading the pay equity adjustments over 5 years without any plan to account for the increasing cost of living. It is bad enough that the government is already over a year late paying the first pay equity installments. It is bad enough that the methodology it used is flawed and produced low results. But to actually ask underpaid, low income workers to give up part of their pay for the employer payroll costs is absurd and shows a complete lack of respect for home support workers,” stated Stearns.
If the government truly supports pay equity, it would make sure that workers get their full due and provide employers with the funds to meet their statutory obligations. In fact, it should make the full pay equity adjustments now. Otherwise home support workers will finally receive in 2016 the wages they should have received in 2010, that is to say, pay equity with the wages that male workers were making in 2010.
Johanne Perron is the executive director of the NB Coalition for Pay Equity.