For people working in the aged residential, disability and home support sectors, gender biased low wages should be a thing of the past, the TEU said following a landmark decision to settle an equal pay case.
The proposed equal pay settlement will make a huge difference to 55,000 mainly female caregivers and is a significant step towards addressing gender inequality in New Zealand.
Care and support workers will see their pay lift to between $19.00 and $23.50 from 1 July, rising to between $21.50 and $27.00 in July 2021.
“Caregivers are so often the unsung heroes for thousands of families around New Zealand who depend on caregiver’s vast expertise, patience and remarkable skills to care for their loved ones. It is fantastic that they will finally be paid enough to support themselves and their own families,” Suzanne McNabb, TEU’s national women’s officer, said.
The settlement follows 20 months of negotiations to settle a landmark ground-breaking equal pay case that was lodged in 2012 by caregiver Kristine Bartlett and her union, in which courts found gender bias was the cause of Bartlett’s low wages.
The Court of Appeal decision found women in predominantly female workforces could make a claim for pay equity under the Equal Pay Act.
That decision led to the government setting up negotiations with unions to reach a settlement as well as a working group to develop principles for dealing with pay equity claims, which were agreed last year.
The equal pay settlement for care and support workers is expected to have wider ramifications, as other sectors consider taking steps to bring to an end gender bias in pay rates.
Education support workers are currently involved in talks to settle a long running pay equity campaign. The merit of a pay equity claim for library staff working in tertiary education institutions is also being considered by the TEU as part of a broader union claim for those employed in public libraries.
“My hope is that the settlement for care and support workers marks the beginning of the end of paying women less simply because they are women. Low wages force thousands of women into a lifetime of inequality so it is vital we continue to speak up and work together to ensure equal pay for work of equal value,” McNabb said.