Pay Equity – what is it about?

Pay equity is about women and men receiving the same pay

for doing jobs that are different, but of equal value

(that is, jobs that require similar degrees of skills, responsibility, and effort).

These changes involve a new process for employees to raise a pay equity claim directly with an employer for work, which may be subject to systemic sex-based discrimination. This new process is not too dissimilar from the bargaining process that is already part of NZ employment relations framework.

This new legislation may be a moot point for some employers but for others this could force a review of how you determine pay levels for different positions.

Like with all new legislation these days there are fish hooks and gaps. I am sharing with you what pay equity is all about because the Unions are hot on this and the outcomes they achieve for their members could have a ripple effect for others in the same industries. Recent webinars I have attended have mentioned that the threshold for a pay equity claim to be considered is low and professions such as administration, cleaners, dental nurses or hygienists and vet nurses that have been historically considered a female-dominated roles or ‘women’s work’ are already on the radar.

The purpose of the legislation is to help shift balance back towards those who work in roles and industry’s that are typically classed as ‘women’s work’ and have historically been paid lower than similar roles in male dominated professions / industries. This all came about after the historical support and care workers pay equity case in 2017 that ended with the government settling for $2bn under the Pay Equity Act. Funnily enough after listening to recent webinars on this topic many didn’t realise there even was a Pay Equity Act until this case came up.

More updates to come

In the next update we will cover off what the claim threshold is and the pay equity process outlined in the legislation. Then in the January update I will cover simple ways to check that you are paying fair market rates for the work and how pay equity is different to the fair pay agreements we could see being implemented this time next year.

The caution we have for our clients is that these changes will affect all employers not just large employers, or those with unions and the public sector. The process outlined is prescriptive and it is new territory with many unknowns. We are going to cover everything and you will learn what to do when you get a claim, and who to talk to, but most importantly how to get your pay levels in your business right so your team doesn’t need to consider making a claim in the first place.

Because this topic will evolve as cases get heard at the Employment Relations Authority you may want to subscribe to the Employment.govt.nz updates – sign up here.

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