Kaiarahi i te Reo, therapists, ATSSD and special education assistants

Kaiarahi i te Reo, therapists, assistants to teachers of students with severe disabilities (ATSSD) and special education assistants have separate pay scales. Salary depends on qualifications, experience and responsibility. Allowances include motor vehicle, first aid, dirty work and overnight. Leave entitlements include annual, long service, sick, bereavement and parental.

If you work at a school as:

  • an assistant to teachers of students with severe disabilities (ATSSD), you work alongside teachers, helping with the education of students with severe disabilities
  • a special education assistant, you work alongside teachers and therapists, helping with the education of students with physical disabilities
  • a kaiarahi i te reo, you are fluent in te reo Māori and have an in-depth knowledge of Māori traditions and beliefs, and you work alongside a teacher supporting Māori language
  • a therapist, you are a nationally registered physiotherapist and/or occupational therapist holding a current annual practising certificate.

Employment agreements

Kaiarahi i te reo, therapists, ATSSD and special education assistants are covered by:

  • the Kaiarahi i te Reo, Therapists’, ATSSD and Special Education Assistants’ Collective Agreement, or
  • an individual employment agreement (IEA), with similar terms and conditions as the collective agreement.

You are covered by the collective agreement if your work is covered by this agreement and you're a member of the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZEI).

You need to sign an individual employment agreement if your work is covered by the collective agreement but you are not a member of the NZEI. The Ministry of Education develops and publishes the IEA. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

Your pay

Your pay is set out in Part 3 of the agreement. Check the clause that gives the pay scales for your job:

If you work part time your pay is a percentage of the full-time pay for your role, calculated by the number of hours you work each week.

Pay increases

Each pay grade has steps within it and you can move up those steps based on your performance review each year. This is explained in the clauses that set your pay scales.

If you have a recognised qualification that your employer agrees is relevant to your job you may be entitled to a pay increase. The allowances and the qualification levels you need to achieve are listed in clause 3.7 of the agreement. You can find out more about the NZQA (external link) qualifications on their website.

If you were receiving a payment before 28 January 2012 for a recognised qualification listed in an earlier collective agreement, you will still receive that payment while you are employed by the same school in the same job.

2009–2011 Kaiarahi i te Reo, Therapists', Assistants to Teachers of Students with Severe Disabilities, and Special Education Assistants' Collective Agreement


Allowances are covered in part 5 of your agreement. They include:

  • motor vehicle (if you have to use your own car for school business – 58 cents per km)
  • first aid (if you are the designated first-aider and have a first aid certificate or nursing qualification – 35 cents an hour)
  • overnight (if you have to stay overnight on a school camp or trip – $20 per night)
  • dirty work (therapists only – $3.85 a day).


The different types of leave you are entitled to are covered in Part 6 of your collective agreement.

Annual leave and long service leave

You get 4 weeks annual leave each year (clause 6.3.5) and you must take this when the school is closed at the end of the school year (not in term time). This is on top of the normal public holidays, which are paid days off. You get Easter Tuesday as a paid day off in your first 10 years of service, and therapists also get the day after Boxing Day as a paid day off.

  • After 5 years continuous service your annual leave increases to 4 weeks 3 days (clause 6.3.6).
  • After 10 years continuous service your annual leave increases to 5 weeks but you must take Easter Tuesday as annual leave. Therapists must also take the day after Boxing Day as annual leave (clause 6.3.7).

If you are a special education assistant or therapist, you qualify for long service leave of 4 weeks (clause 6.4.1) after 20 years service.

Sick leave

Your basic sick leave entitlement is 5 days a year. An extra entitlement of leave is granted depending on your length of service, as shown in the table below.

Time you've workedExtra sick leave
Up to three months 7 days
Over three months and up to six months 7 days
Over six months and up to nine months 7 days
Over nine months and up to five years 5 days
Over five years and up to ten years 19 days
Over ten years and up to 20 years 14 days
Over 20 years and up to 30 years 25 days
Over 30 years 22 days

If you don’t use all your sick leave in a year you can carry it forward, and you can anticipate days from the extra allocation above if your employer agrees.

You can use your sick leave to care for a sick family member.

Clause 6.5 has the full details of your sick leave, including special conditions for working out your additional sick leave if you were previously covered by a different employment agreement.

Other leave

You are entitled to bereavement/tangihanga leave, as set out in clause 6.6.

Your school may also allow you to take special or discretionary leave with or without pay on days when the school is open (clause 6.11).

Parental leave

Parental leave is granted by the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 (external link) . It applies to a birth mother, their partner/spouse and people who adopt a child aged under 6.

Parental leave covers four types of leave.

  • Maternity leave – Mothers can get up to 18 weeks off work from around the time of birth or from the time you start caring for an adopted child.
  • Partner/paternity leave - If your partner has had a baby or you have adopted a child together, you can take up to 2 weeks off.
  • Extended leave – You may be able to extend your maternity leave for an extra 52 weeks.
  • Special leave – While you are pregnant you can have up to 10 days pregnancy-related leave.

You need to apply to your employer before taking parental leave. The usual notice required is 3 months but this can be reduced in some circumstances, such as if an adoption is arranged in a short time. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (external link) website explains how to apply for parental leave.

Parental leave payment

If you qualify for the parental leave payment, it is paid through Inland Revenue, so you need to apply for this payment and your school must confirm that you are entitled to parental leave. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (external link) website explains how to apply for parental leave payments.

If you work part time, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (external link)  can help you work out your parental leave payment.

Maternity grant

If you are a special education assistant or a therapist employed under an old NZ Support Staff in Schools Composite agreement at 30 August 1992, you may qualify for a maternity grant. It is paid if you return to work before your maternity leave ends and work for a further 6 months. The amount paid is equivalent to 30 working days leave on pay. You can read more about this in clause 6.8 of your agreement.

Leaving your job

To resign (or retire) from your job, you need to give your school board one month’s written notice.

If you feel that you are being forced to resign or your work situation has become intolerable and you feel you have no choice but to leave, you may have grounds for an employment dispute. There is more information about this in part 12 of your collective agreement.

If your board dismisses you from your job, they must give you one month’s written notice and follow the procedures set out in the employment agreement – clauses 8.3 and 8.4.


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