Home support workers 'having to pay out of our pockets' to keep working thanks to high petrol prices

Home support workers are throwing in the towel over high petrol prices.

Workers are typically given 50c a kilometre to cover fuel used to travel to clients, but say this isn't enough.

E tū spokesperson Jenny Stewart says they're not paid for every kilometre under 15 - just getting a flat rate of $4.19.

"We're having to pay out of our pockets… to keep doing this service," she told Newshub.

Ms Stewart says time taken between clients is paid as minimum wage on average, which doesn't cover big trips. The price of a litre of petrol has risen about 60c since the current travel rates were put in place in 2016, RNZ reports.

The home support sector has won a series of court cases, but fear unstable incomes are driving experienced workers away.

Ms Stewart says workers' hours can be dropped with just a few weeks' notice.

"There's no security in that. If we have to get mortgages and loans, what bank is going to be saying 'you've got an income that's in any way guaranteed'? It's not."

Ms Stewart says it's putting the country's growing elderly population at risk.

"Support workers who have put a lot of time and commitment and real hard work into this industry, they're leaving because they can't afford to carry on working under these conditions."

Workers have also complained they're being cheated out of kilometres they've driven by inaccurate GPS trackers.

There are around 22,000 people in the sector across the country.

Support provider Enliven general manager Andrea Mcloud told RNZ workers were being paid correctly, according to their settlement.

Demand for support workers is expected to skyrocket in the coming years thanks to New Zealand's aging population.

"Jacinda, please, we voted for you," one worker told RNZ. "I voted for you. I really want you to take this on board and fix this sector."


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