Ministry gives effect to Employment Court decision

The Ministry of Education is taking steps to put an Employment Court decision into action over how support staff are paid, says the head of the Education Infrastructure Service Jerome Sheppard.

“The decision came after a court challenge by the union representing support staff, the NZEI. Employees will, of course, be paid in full exactly what they are entitled to, based on the actual time they have worked. The changes are solely to the way they are paid. Unfortunately this will mean that around 3,000 support staff will not receive any pay for a fortnight in February.  Their total pay for the year will be the same however.

“We have made every effort to resolve this issue with the NZEI. We would be happy to offer employees the chance to opt out of this change, but it would require union agreement.

“The gap in payments is the situation we were trying to avoid by structuring pay differently this year to plan around a quirk in the pay calendar. This year there are 27 fortnightly pay dates instead of 26, something that happens approximately every 11 years.

“Typically support staff don’t work the full year, and many choose to smooth out their income by having their pay annualised. That means their pay is stretched out over the whole year, including periods they’re not working.

“With 27 pay dates this year, we wanted to stretch out their pay over a longer period. Otherwise there would be one fortnight they went without.

“The NZEI challenged spreading the pay over 27 pays. We accept the finding of the Court that stretching pay over 27 dates instead of 26 was inconsistent with the collective agreement. The NZEI and Ministry agreed in Court that if 27 pays was wrong, then payments should have been spread over 26 pay periods, with no pay for the 27th pay period.

“We are contacting principals this week and putting information on our website to let support staff know how they are affected by this. Changes to pay will take effect in the October 26 pay cycle for annualised support staff covered by the collective agreement.

“Another 2,700 support staff with annualised pay, who aren’t covered by the collective, will be offered the option of switching to having their pay over 26 pay dates if they wish,” says Mr Sheppard.

Impact on staff with annualised pay, who are on the collective agreement:

Pay for these staff will be adjusted as if it had been paid over 26 pay dates, instead of 27.

They will still receive the same amount of money by the end of the pay annualisation year.

  • They will get paid at a slightly higher rate from 26 October for the rest of this year and up until January 17, 2017.
  • However on the last pay date of the current year,  February 1, 2017, they won’t receive any pay.
  • They will get some backpay on the pay day of October 26, 2016 (in some cases this payment may be paid on November 9 instead). That’s to top up earnings to what they would have received in the pay year to date had they  been paid at the 26 pay period rate. 

Impact on staff with annualised pay, who are on individual employment agreements:

These staff can choose whether they want to continue being paid as they are now, with no interruption to pay on February 1, or to switch to a 26 pay date payment cycle.

Examples of 26 and 27 pay dates

Amy earns $17.18 per hour, working 20 hours a week, for 40 weeks of the year*. This is what she would get under a 26 pay dates option, and a 27 pay dates option. 


Pay from February 3 to October 12

Fortnightly pay rate from October 12 onwards

Salary arrears paid October 26**

 Earnings from Oct 12 to January 17 2017  Final pay date February 1  Total paid for year

Changes to 26 pay dates


  $317.00  $223.00   $1,903.00 $0.00 $8,246.00
Remains at 27 pay dates







*Plus annual leave and other holidays
** in some cases this may be paid on November 9 instead

Note: These numbers have been rounded. The first pay day of the next annualisation pay year is 15 February 2017,



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