Parliament has passed the Equal Pay Amendment Bill, which lays out a new process to raise and consider claims of systemic sex-based pay discrimination across female-dominated industries.
The law change will allow workers to make a pay equity claim using a process based on New Zealand’s existing bargaining framework. By making court action a last resort, the proposed approach will lower the bar for workers initiating a pay equity claim, and use a collaborative process more familiar to unions and businesses.
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, effort and experience, and conditions). This differs from equal pay, which is about men and women getting the same pay for doing the same job. The process for making equal pay claims is largely unaffected by this new law change.
The changes will commence in three months. Employment New Zealand will be developing online tools and resources, with the support of its pay equity partners – the Ministry for Women and the State Services Commission.
Tools and resources, which are being developed, will help workers, businesses and unions to understand the steps in the process. Support will be available from Employment New Zealand during the process, including mediation services, to help resolve disputes and help achieve enduring results.