75% of early learning providers worse off by accepting Pay Parity offer

30 September 2021

The government’s early learning teacher Pay Parity offer is failing to deliver on its promise, with three quarters of surveyed providers saying they’d be worse off by opting in.

Damning feedback shows the offer designed to close the gap between kindergarten and centre teacher pay is missing the mark, including:

  • 75% of respondents said the Minister’s increased funding rates would not cover the increased staff wages costs for their centre
  • The average shortfall between Pay Parity increased funding and new wage rates was $35,000
  • 70% of respondents said the last-minute adjustments to the offer made no difference to their decision, even though removing the top pay band was designed to allow more providers to opt in

“Thirty five thousand dollars is a lot of money, particularly for community centres who don’t charge fees. Where will that come from? If your community is struggling with the pandemic already, you can’t increase parent fees,” said acting ECC CEO Sue Kurtovich.

“Even if you can absorb the shortfall, that’s a significant amount that could be going into education and care.”

Providers are facing tough decisions on opting in and meeting the shortfall however they can, or be named and shamed by the Ministry and risk losing staff in the middle of a severe teacher shortage, saying:

  • “Our centre is just making ends meet on the minimum staff pay rates now. We would put huge pressure on our already stretched rural community to fund raise each year just to cover any staff pay increases.”
  • “The problem we have is that while we already pay our staff the equivalent rates to the Kindergarten scale. We are not confident going forward that the funding will flow with for any future increases in pay scale.”
  • “We can't afford to pay a higher price as our Centre is in a very low socioeconomic area therefore our parents don't pay fees and we rely solely on funding only for paying our staff and meeting other expenses.”

“It’s hard to see who benefits from this offer. Many centres are just hanging on as it is. Pay Parity has missed the mark for most in our sector,” said Ms Kurtovich.

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