The maximum gross payout agreed on was $2000, but people on the Facebook page “New Zealand, please hear our voice” are claiming to have been paid less than $1000.
But that’s because the payouts are subject to deductions for taxes, student loans and Kiwisaver, and they’re adjusted to reflect the hours a nurse worked.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation [NZNO] Industrial Advisor DHB, Lesley Harry, said: “I’m surprised to hear that people didn’t expect a lump sum to be taxed. Certainly our presentation to members was that it was the gross amount that the lump sum applies.”
Asked if nurses should have known their payments would be taxed, Harry said: “Well, I would have thought so.”
Hamilton nurse Beka Mills said she’d been paid $1000 in a lump sum. She said nurses hadn’t realised how much a $2000 payout could be taxed.
Based on her hours worked, her gross payout should have been $1800, she said.
She hadn’t seen her full payslip yet, but thought the other $800 must have gone to tax, her student loan and Kiwisaver.
“From what I’ve talked about with a lot of my colleagues is that nurses aren’t trained and don’t really work in numbers a lot, apart from in medication, and so I think that a lot of nurses sold themselves short because they didn’t actually sit down and do the calculations and say ‘what does this actually mean, what is actually going to be in my pocket from this deal’,” Mills said.
Asked if she thought nurses would be criticised for not having known lump sums would be taxed, Mills said: “Absolutely.
“I definitely did my calculations but still, from what’s going around, it caught a lot of people by surprise … I think that a lot of nurses are feeling quite deflated.”
For many nurses, the payout had been a “big seller” in the pay deal or multi-employer collective agreement (MECA).
Harry said: “All aspects of the monetary offer, including the [lump] payment and increases to pay rates that we present are gross amounts. The tax regime varies depending on a person’s income.
“We’re not in a position to be able to calculate what the members will get after tax.”
NZNO had received “lots and lots” of queries about the lump sums and other issues relating to the agreement.
“At the moment, the lump sum is on the members’ mind as they wait for theirs … We have been in constant mode trying to respond to these queries.”
Ministry of Health internal and stakeholder communications advisor Blair Cunningham said the lump sum was to be paid “as soon as possible” once the pay deal had been ratified.
“Given the lump sum is paid out by District Health Boards, it will be up to each DHB to determine when these are made.
“The lump sum payments for both part-time and casual employees will be based on actual hours worked over the previous 12 months, up to the equivalent of 1 FTE.”
Harry said nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in the DHB sector would all receive a lump payout.
“Some members will have their lump sum payments already and some members will need to wait until late September for their payment.”
Nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives and DHBs agreed on a MECA in early August following strike action, with more threatened.