National 2 April 2020
Kia ora

I’m writing to you from my kitchen table on Day Six of our national lockdown. Other than a daily walk around the block, occasional trips to the supermarket, and the trip I made into town the other day to give blood, I’m staying home and working out of my new home office. I’ve replaced trips to the gym with push-ups (not many) and my husband has relocated downstairs during working hours on the grounds that “you’re too noisy.”

Each day, weekends included, I take part in a national Zoom discussion between unions and DHBs about Covid-19 logistics. There has been a lot of talk about PPE, and it was a relief to hear Ashley Bloomfield announce a relaxation of the national guidelines in support of wider mask usage for frontline health workers. We know there are ongoing concerns about PPE availability and use. If you think we can help, or have information you think we should have, please get in touch.

We know that many of you are being asked to put yourselves at the forefront of this massive challenge. We want you to know that we are here for you and will do whatever we can to see you have safe working conditions throughout this crisis.

Covid-19 advice and resources

We’ve compiled as much information as we can to guide and support members through the Covid-19 pandemic - from childcare and accommodation support to hours of work, extra duties and remuneration information. You can find it here.

Also if you are looking for useful information on the Covid-19 pandemic, Newsroom is providing a daily “by the numbers” update and analysis using infographics and graphs.  As well as a total overview, it breaks down cases by individual DHBs, types of transmission those cases are, along with ICU capacity and hospital bed occupation. You can access it here.

MECA – proposed settlement

Covid-19 has meant we’ve all had to adjust our priorities.  Given this we have reached a proposed MECA settlement with DHBs in the interests of getting through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We had managed to get six days of negotiations under our belts before the crisis hit, and a number of items had already been agreed (see bullets below).

However day seven of the scheduled talks landed on the final work-day before the Level 4 lockdown and had to be conducted via Zoom. After long discussions with our bargaining team and a focused exchange with the DHB team, we all agreed that our priority for the coming weeks and months must be the Covid-19 pandemic.

We offered up a proposal to the DHBs which they, in consultation with the Ministry of Health, have agreed to.

The proposal is a 12-month rollover of your current terms and conditions, with some small improvements, along with a CPI adjustment to salaries (1.9%).

It means that in February next year we will re-enter negotiations and will be able to focus on several substantive issues that need attention.

Ratification - online ballot

We know you are busy but we need an indicative vote from members to guide the ASMS National Executive, which is responsible for ratifying the proposed settlement. This means you’ll be asked to vote yes or no to the offer. You will have two weeks from 7th April to register your vote. Please look out for an email from ElectionsNZ which will conduct the online-only ballot.

Terms of Settlement

Below is a summary list of new provisions. You will be able to read the complete wording, along with a tracked changes version of the MECA when you receive your ballot instructions. We will also provide a revised MECA on the ASMS website.

  • 12 month term, 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021
  • Clause 1.1 now reads:

    The parties acknowledge the fundamental importance of the need to promote and establish DISTRIBUTIVE clinical leadership within the workplace consistent with the principles of engagement in the Time for Quality agreement between the Association and all District Health Boards (refer Clause 2) and the associated need to establish effective employer-employee partnerships, based on good faith, mutual respect and constructive engagement.
  • All salaries adjusted per CPI (1.9%) see table below
  • Recovery time is to be applied to shifts as well as to after hours on call arrangements (cl 13.6)
  • Safe access to car parking must be arranged during hours of darkness (cl 21.6)
  • We have a new clause that enables pregnant employees to reduce their hours of work (if they wish) from 28 weeks (clause 28.5)
  • We have a new professional development clause that provides for SMO/SDOs with clinical leadership roles to undertake relevant leadership training outside of CME time. This will be described and provided for in clauses 36 and 39
  • We have added the word “posting” to the secondment clause, which will allow for charitable work to be undertaken under this provision
  • We have added the words “working (or volunteering) for a medical charity” into the terms of the sabbaticals clause
  • An addition to the research and publications clause: “In addition to the right to use sabbatical leave, secondment leave or continuing medical education leave for research purposes, special leave and leave without pay may be used for such research activity”
  • Shift work is now included in the vacancies and locums clause (47.3): “Notwithstanding any of the above, an employee shall not be required to undertake additional duties and responsibilities caused by an absence of an employee(s) on their on-call or shift roster beyond a reasonable period of time”
  • There is a new clause (56) dealing with Domestic Violence.

Other commitments

It was also agreed, over the term of the MECA, the concept of an Accord (or similar arrangement). Part of that would include exploring the issues facing shift workers, with a focus on looking at the underpinnings of the claim for alternative pay for after 5pm.

Salary tables

CME and sabbaticals

We know that a number of you have had to put all kinds of planned leave on hold. We also know that once business as usual resumes – whenever that might be – it will be a while before you can take planned CME, sabbaticals and annual leave.  In the meantime, we have reached an agreement with the DHBs that CME balances will effectively be placed on hold. This means none of you should experience any disadvantage in accessing CME and sabbatical leave that you’ve had to delay. It also means that if your balance was due to hit the three-year cap, it won’t happen. ASMS is happy to help you with any questions or concerns.


We are working with DHBs to ensure that we keep in touch. In most cases, that means a short Zoom meeting on or around the original JCC meeting date, with messages to regular attendees about how to connect. Most of these discussions are focused on local COVID issues, but there is some capacity to discuss other urgent local matters if needed. Please get in touch with your branch officers or your local industrial officer if you want to know more about these. We continue to publish our DHB News so that you can stay up to date.

While you’re on the frontline – we’ve got your back

ASMS is still up and running during this Covid-19 crisis and will continue to offer support, assistance and advice.

You can call us on 04 499 1271 during office hours and be put through to one of our industrial officers. Or you can email the industrial officer responsible for your DHB or workplace directly. See here for contact information.

General enquiries can be emailed to

As essential workers during this pandemic, we know you are going to have questions and concerns around your employment, your rights and your own health and safety – so please get in touch. You can also keep up to date with any advice on our website

Stay safe.

Kia kaha koutou - mā tātau katoa e ārai atu te.

Sarah Dalton
Executive Director