Government announces Gender Pay Principles for state sector

Thu 05 Jul 2018

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins and Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter announced the launch of new Gender Pay Principles. The principles ...

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins and Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter announced the launch of new Gender Pay Principles.

The principles are intended to guide government work on gender pay and to assist working environments in the State Sector to be free from gender based inequalities.

There are five principles: 

  1. Freedom from bias and discrimination
  2. Transparency and accessibility
  3. Acknowledging the relationship between paid and unpaid work
  4. Sustainability
  5. Participation and engagement.

The principles are outlined on the Ministry for Women website, including an issues statement and the meaning of each principle.

The principles were developed by the Gender Pay Principles Working Group, a bi-partite working group of state sector unions and agencies and the State Services Commission. The working group was established in 2017 after a pay equity claim was filed against the State Services Commissioner by the Public Service Association - Te Pukenga (PSA).

The principles are designed for the state sector but may be relevant to other sectors.

The Beehive press release notes that further guidance will be developed for employers and employees. 

Background information

In 2012, a claim was lodged under the Equal Pay Act 1972 by E tū (formerly the Service and Food Workers Union) on behalf of Kristine Bartlett, against her employer rest home TerraNova Ltd. The claim argued that specific industries where employees are predominantly women are as a whole underpaid.

In 2016, the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles (JWG) submitted their recommendations to Government. They recommended a process for handling pay equity claims and Principles for the Implementation of Equal Pay, specific to raising, assessing and settling a claim. The JWG also highlighted that legislative changes would be required

In April 2017, the previous Government announced a $2 billion pay equity settlement for 55,000 workers in the aged care, disability residential care and home and community support services, who are predominantly women.

Following the settlement, in July 2017 employment legislation was introduced by the previous Government. This attracted widespread criticism by unions and others. The current Government announced in November 2017 that this proposed legislation would not be progressed

In January 2018, the JWG was reconvened. In March the JWG submitted their recommendations, "recommending clarifying and simplifying the process for initiating a pay equity claim, making no changes to the principles on comparators, and amending the Equal Pay Act 1972 to implement the principles." New employment legislation is expected to be proposed this year.

Current Health Minister David Clark recently confirmed that in agreement with unions and employers, the Government would extend the settlement to mental health and addiction support workers.

The Education and Workforce Select Committee is currently considering the Employment Relations Amendment Bill after a consultation period.

For more information about the JWG, see the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

Update: Health Minister David Clark has signed the $173.5 million pay equity settlement for mental health and addiction support workers.

Related research and reports

The Human Rights Commission has published their bi-annual Tracking Equality at Work report and web-based interactive tool. These look at equality at work based on employment, pay, leadership and discrimination statistics from Statistics NZ and other government departments. The report shows that women are still being paid less than men overall; young Māori women are particularly marginalised.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue said that equality for women, (minority) ethnic groups and disabled people was either improving at "glacial speeds or not improving at all."

The Ministry for Women has also commissioned research into the gender pay gay including the report Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand (2017) and more recently the paper Parenthood and labour market outcomes (2018). It has also released Something's got to change – Mothers and their babies (2018).

Selected media

Better deal for low paid public servants kicks in, Beehive Press Release, Scoop, 03.09.2018

Pay increase for mental health and addiction support workers next month, Beehive press release, 25.07.2018

Mental health and addictions settlement rights a wrong, Press Release: Public Service Association, Scoop, 25.07.2018

Mental health support workers to receive pay increase, Radio NZ, 25.07.2018

Change needed for Mums, Beehive: Julie Anne Genter, 24.07.2018

Māori lag in workforce equity, Waatea News, 18.07.2018

More women on public boards, Beehive Press Release, 06.07.2018

Gender Pay Principles offer blueprint for pay equity, Press Release: Human Rights Commission, Scoop, 02.07.2018

Gender Pay Principles another step towards pay equity, Press Release: Public Service Association, Scoop, 02.07.2018

Closing the gender pay gap in the state sector boosted, Press Release: New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Scoop, 02.07.2018

New research released on parenthood and labour market outcomes, Ministry for Women Press Release, 29.05.2018

Government to consider recommendations for pay equity principles, Beehive Press Release, 05.03.2018 (also see the Attached: Letter of recommendations from reconvened Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles)

Achieving pay equity needs to be easier - government working group, Stuff, 05.03.2018

Panel recommends changes to rules for pay equity claims; Government says result will be a 'fairer deal' for women, NZ Herald, 05.03.2018

Cabinet will soon consider a range of recommendations aimed at making it easier to file a pay equity claim, Radio NZ, 05.03.2018

Minister for Women 'ambitious' yet realistic about power of new pay-equity bill: 'There's no silver bullet', One News, 05.03.2018

Pay Equity in New Zealand is a Race Issue, Not Just a Gender Issue, Vice, 08.03.2017

Image: Jordan Rowland on Unsplash

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