WorkSafe New Zealand has today opened staff consultation on its organisation change proposal.

WorkSafe is committed to working towards a sustainable operating model. The change proposal aims to streamline our activities to focus on the core functions New Zealanders expect of their health and safety regulator.

Since WorkSafe’s inception, our baseline funding has been maintained and we have received additional ongoing funding for specific activities, as well as time-limited funding for short-term cost pressures like COVID-19 and the Whakaari litigation.

As part of ongoing funding discussions, in 2021, the former Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety commissioned the Strategic Baseline Review.

The Review found that while WorkSafe is performing its core regulatory functions, work was needed to achieve a sustainable funding model and clarity about the outcomes WorkSafe is delivering to New Zealanders.

WorkSafe agreed to the recommendations in the Review, and we have been working at pace to implement these recommendations, which are critical to enable us to develop a clear investment case for future funding.

The current proposal includes a number of roles being disestablished and new roles being established. While the proposal is subject to change, the overall roles within WorkSafe may reduce by 100-120.

We have recently been provided with additional ongoing funding to allow us to maintain victim services and coronial services through this change process. We have also been supported with additional cost pressure funding for the Whakaari litigation and new contingency funding, which we can draw on for unexpected events. This support means we don’t have to further reduce services, including at the frontline.

The proposed changes would still result in WorkSafe having more staff than we did prior to COVID-19. We have worked hard to prioritise non-personnel cost reductions over changes that directly impact our people, including by reducing current vacancies within WorkSafe.

There is no proposed impact to our frontline inspectors and investigators. It remains WorkSafe’s intention to grow inspector numbers over the coming years, with more inspectors planned for later this year. If a health and safety inspector is operating in a non-frontline role, and is impacted through the change, they will be offered redeployment to a frontline inspector role. This reflects our commitment to streamline our activities to our core functions.

As we move through the consultation process our priority is to communicate with our kaimahi first.

Notes on new funding:

  • Ongoing funding of $4.024 million ($1.006m per year) over the forecast period to enable the retention of WorkSafe’s victim services and coronial services.
  • $7 million in a tagged contingency to support WorkSafe to manage unexpected costs arising out of the change process without further FTE reductions
  • A tagged contingency to support WorkSafe with costs associated with the Whakaari litigation.