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Pay Equity - Equal Pay Act 1972

Pay equity is about both men and women being paid the same for carrying out responsibilities that are different, but of equal value in that the role requires a similar level of skill, degree, responsibility and effort.


In New Zealand all employers must abide by the Equal Pay Act 1972 which was amended in the middle of 2020 to introduce a new process for individual employees and unions to raise a claim with an employer. Pay enquiry is caused by systemic sex-based discrimination that undervalues work that is predominantly performed by females. The amendments provide a pathway for employees and unions to settle pay equity disputes without resorting to suing their employers.


It is important to understand the subtle but key differences when talking about equal pay and pay equity. Equal pay simply means that women and men are paid the same for doing the same work. The process for making an equal pay claim is mostly unaffected by the new act. Pay equity means women and men are paid the same for doing work that is different, but of equal value.


The amendments came about due to a 2012 claim by an aged care worker named Kristine Bartlett who argued that she was underpaid because her work was predominantly performed by women. Bartlett’s case went to the Supreme Court, the results of which found that she was underpaid due to gender discrimination. In the end the New Zealand government negotiated a settlement to prevent further legal action from relevant unions. The decision extended the application of the Equal Pay Act to include pay equity.


The changes allow multiple unions to raise a claim for multiple employees across a single industry where employees are performing the same work. If parties agree that there is a pay equity issue then they are required to sit down and decide upon fair remuneration. Any agreements reached will be ratified forming a part of their new employment agreement.



If you believe that you are impacted by issues around pay equity in your current role get in touch with us to see how we can help. These issues are never easy to discuss as many of us are just pleased to be employed in the current post pandemic/lockdown climate. Everyone deserves pay equity regardless of the excuses that your employer may provide. We all have a right to equity in the workplace especially when it comes to our wages or salary. Remember we are not a union and all of our services aimed at workers are either free of paid for by koha. Our drop in clinics run once a month, usually on the first Friday, and all the details are available from our Facebook page.


To find out more details about what we do and how we can help please visit our site www.cwc.org.nz and take a look around. You can also email us directly on tautoko@gmail.com or phone us on 0272965276.


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