The Government will update the Equal Pay Act and amend the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity.
This will make it easier for women to file pay equity claims with their employers, rather than having to go through the courts. It will also assist employers in addressing those claims.
“The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Joint Working Group, which set out principles for raising and resolving pay equity claims through bargaining,” State Services Minister Paula Bennett says.
The Joint Working Group reported back earlier this year with a number of recommendations, including:
• Principles to provide guidance to employers and employees in identifying, assessing and resolving pay equity claims.
• A process for employers and employees to follow to address pay equity, including a bargaining process based on the Employment Relations Act framework.
“I would like to thank the union and employer representatives on the Joint Working Group for their hard work and commitment to what is a very important issue,” Mrs Bennett says.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse says the Government has also decided to supplement the Joint Working Group's recommendations to clarify how to choose an appropriate job for comparison when making a pay equity claim.
“This was an area the Joint Working Group was not able to agree on. However, the Government believes this needs to be addressed to ensure the process is clear and effectively addresses pay equity claims for all parties.
“This is a major step forward for achieving pay equity in New Zealand and reflects the Government‘s commitment to working New Zealanders,” Mr Woodhouse says.
Ms Upston says it is important that gender doesn't affect what people are paid.
“Occupations shouldn't be lower paid just because women make up most of the employees,” she says.
“The Government's response today means that employees and employers can resolve concerns about unequal pay in good faith.
“In addition, there will be a pathway for resolving issues, as happens with other employment matters, including mediation and ultimately the Employment Relations Authority.”
“These changes show we are heading in the right direction when it comes to closing the gender pay gap, of which pay equity is one component, and goes a long way towards achieving real, meaningful results for all women,” Ms Upston says.
Changes to the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the Employment Relations Act 2000 are needed to implement the changes. The Government expects to introduce a Bill next year.
SOURCE: Offices of Paula Bennett, Michael Woodhouse and Louise Upston