The National-led Government has tabled a proposed amendment to the Equal Pay Act in Parliament that could deter women from making claims to achieve genuine equal pay.
The law does provide a legal framework for claimants to take pay claims to their employers without having to go to court, however it also restricts the number of “comparator” roles that can be used to determine the correct level of pay.
To assess whether women in predominantly female jobs are paid equally, it is necessary to select appropriate male comparators.
This means identifying jobs to which a similar value can be attributed using gender neutral criteria. The equal pay rate should be then set to the same rate as the comparators’ pay if the assessment shows the jobs to be of equal value.
Rather than allow women to select the most appropriate comparator for their particular role, the law National has tabled would restrict how comparators can be chosen and agreed.
Had these restrictions been in place when the recent caregivers’ claim was made, the same settlement may not have been reached.
“The Bill fails to deliver on what the government has committed to in the Equal Pay Principles,” Suzanne McNabb, TEU’s national women’s officer, said.
“Pay equity means equal pay for work of equal value. To achieve this, women need to have the option to select a comparator that it suitable for their particular role. Restricting the options available will simply enshrine into law discriminatory wage rates for thousands of women.”
The first reading of the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill is expected to take place next week.
New Zealanders will have an opportunity to share their concerns about the Bill during a week of equal pay events that will take place around New Zealand from 12 – 20th August.
The week of action will draw attention to the issue of equal pay in the run up to the General Election. It is part of a long running campaign to ensure women receive equal pay for work of equal value.