Carmel Sepuloni looking into raising pay for workers with disabilities

Carmel Sepuloni.
Carmel Sepuloni. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Carmel Sepuloni is looking into ways to raise the pay rates for workers with disabilities.

The Minister for Disability Issues says she wants to be a voice for workers earning less than $5 an hour.

Ms Sepuloni has announced a plan to replace the Minimum Wage Exemption scheme with a wage supplement, saying low pay rates are discrimination.

"We know that this is a discriminatory act. We've been aware of it as a country for quite some time. Now we're in Government… it's something I want to do something about."

But ending discrimination in the workforce is not her only aim.

"[I want] to make sure we're encouraging disabled people to get into the workforce and do it in a way that doesn't disadvantage them [or their] employers."

She told Newshub people with disabilities have long told the Government "nothing about us without us".

"That means stop making decisions for us, talk to us and consult with us about what needs to happen - make sure that we're there on that journey so we can inform it appropriately."

There are around 900 New Zealanders currently being paid "extremely low" wages, says Ms Sepuloni, under the Minimum Wage Exemption scheme.

Consultation with the disability sector begins now, and runs until mid-April.