coalition for equal value equal pay

advocating pay and employment equity for New Zealand women


The Coalition for Equal Value, Equal Pay...

is a voluntary organisation committed to reducing the gender pay gap in New Zealand through policy and initiatives to advance pay equity in general and equal pay for work of equal value in particular.

Our members' expertise and experience spans the breadth and history of this important policy issue. The purpose of this website is to provide background information for the current campaign and for the media.

CEVEP has campaigned for effective pay equity policy and legislation since 1986. CEVEP supports the Working Women's Charter, adopted by the Federation of Labour and Public Service Association back in 1980 - and still very relevant to working women today. Our activities include advocating to government and political parties, writing submissions and appearing before select committees, producing materials on pay equity for the public and the media, and organising tours of overseas experts to New Zealand.



In April 2013, CEVEP was invited to be an 'intervening' party to a pay equity test case taken under the Equal Pay Act 1972 by resthome caregiver Kristine Bartlett and the Service & Food Workers Union (now called E Tu).

The Employment and Appeal Courts confirmed the legislative intention of the 1972 Act to allow claims for equal pay for work of equal. The consequent settlement of Kristine Bartlett’s pay equity claim involved state funding increases and led to equal pay wage increases for 60,000 New Zealand women. Unions within the state sector began job reviews and negotiations for pay equity adjustments for other female dominated occupations. CEVEP, the unions and other women’s organisations continued to advocate for more effective policy and legislation, working together in the Pay Equity Challenge Coalition, a broad coalition of community, employer, union, and academic groups. In 2020 major amendments to the Equal Pay Act were enacted, clarifying a process for women’s pay equity claims which aligns with the Employment Relations Act 2020.

2021: A new generation is rising…

With the passing of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill in 2020, and given Covid disruptions, CEVEP is taking a break.

This website will remain online with background information on pay equity issues. It documents the past 10 years of advocacy by CEVEP.
CEVEP’s papers have been archived in the J.C.Beaglehole Room Tānga Puiaki at Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka.

For current campaigns on pay equity, pay transparency, and gender pay gaps, see:

For gender and ethnicity pay gaps from data collected by Statistics NZ in June each year:

  • Statistics NZ’s NZ.stats data table builder. Choose 'Incomes', then 'Earnings from wages and salaries (and self-employment) by sex, age groups and Ethnic groups'. Use the 'customise' tab to the select sex and ethnic breakdowns want, and the 'export' tab to download the resulting table onto your own computer. Have a go! Then do your own percentage comparisons between Māori women and Pākehā men, etc.

For history of equal pay:

  • Gay Simpkin and Marie Russell (eds) Women will rise! Recalling the Working Women’s Charter (2022), including CEVEP member Martha Coleman on the Charter’s principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
  • Elizabeth Orr, Pay Packets and Stone Walls, (2020). An invaluable history of the long struggle to achieve equal pay for New Zealand women, the memoir of a long-standing CEVEP member and pay equity activist since the 1960s. Still struggling…

Gender pay gap, June 2020

The June 2020 income statistics show that New Zealand women earned on average $30.30 an hour compared with an average of $33.77 for men - that is, the average hourly rate for women 's work is now 90% of that for men. This is a narrowing of the gender pay gap by 1-2 percentage points since June 2019, and by 3-4 percentage points since 2017. The medians were $25.57 and $28.25 for women and men respectively (no improvement). However, these 2020 statistics are distorted by Covid-19 job losses which have disproportinately affected job paid women's jobs, in retail, food and accommodation sectors - see discussion here.

Gender pay gaps are largest for Māori and Pacific women, especially compared to Pākehā men. See details and general discussion here and here.


Equal pay
ns that men and women doing the same job get the same pay rate.

Equal pay for work of equal value
means that men and women get the pay rate for different jobs that require a similar overall level of skills, years of training, responsibility, effort and working conditions.

Equal pay for work of equal value is a policy principle in international conventions ratified by New Zealand.


Contact CEVEP at cevep@cevepnz.org.nz
or PO Box 12361, Wellington
Aotearoa New Zealand

www.cevepnz.org.nz, 27 October 2022


Parliament passes Equal Pay Amendment Bill

On 22 July 2020, Parliament passed the 2018 Equal Pay Amendment Bill, which came into force on 7 November 2020. This Bill amends the Equal Pay Act 1972. In line with court judgments in Bartlett vs Terranova, it states more explicitly that:

  • Employers must ensure there is no differentiation on the basis of sex between pay rates for employees performing the same or substantially similar work (an equal pay claim)
  • Employers must ensure there is no differentiation between the pay rates of male and female employees for work which is exclusively or predominantly performed by female employees which the employees have the same or substantially similar skills, responsibility and experience, working under the same or substantially similar conditions with the same or substantially similar degress of effort (a pay equity claim).

The Bill provides a detailed process for taking a pay equity claim. Claimants may be an individual, or a union, or group of unions acting on behalf of members. Claims must briefly set out information in support of the claim being 'arguable' - that it is female dominated work and why it may currently be and/or has historically been undervalued. Within 45 days the employer must agree the claim is arguable or provide reasons why not. The Bill then covers how the work is to be assessed and the selection of male (or other) comparators. The process under the Equal Pay Act now aligns with 'good faith' collective bargaining under the Employment Relations Act. If the parties cannot agree on 'arguability' or other matters, the claim can be referred to mediation or (as in the 1972 Act) to the Employment Relations Authority for a Determination.

CEVEP supports the strong role for unions in the legislative changes. The process for union claims aligns with collective bargaining, and with ongoing proposals for Fair Pay Agreements covering particular occupations or sectors. However, we are concerned that the new processes may not work well for the 79% of the female workforce that is un-unionised and usually on an individual employment contract with their employer. Unions claims will automatically cover all workmates doing the same or similar work for the same employer(s), whether members or not. Those without union coverage can only each make a separate individual claims to their employer. the employer must notify workmates but may choose whether or not to extend any settlement to them - despite the 'no differentiation' principle above.

The lack of legislated processes in the 1972 Act, and lack of pay transparency, made pay equity claims difficult before the Bartlett vs Terranova rulings. This new law provides a process for non-union claims, but one with several small fishhooks likely to discourage individual claimants. Lack of transparency about occupational pay rates and about claim outcomes will continue to make it difficult for most women to know if their work is undervalued.

See a fuller comment by CEVEP on the final Amendments here. See History & Politics for the full story of National and Labour's bills on pay equity, and advocacy by CEVEP

See here for recent gender and ethnicity equity improvements in the Public Service, June 2019.

Court case leads to big pay increases in state-funded jobs

The above legislative changes arose from an historic pay equity claim and test case by caregiver Kristine Bartlett against her employer Terranaova Care & Resthomes Ltd. The Employment Court's ruling on the Equal Pay Act 1972 was confirmed by the High Court, and led to a series of claims and pay increases for female dominated work in the state sector (and one settlement we know of in the private sector). Some claims are still in the process of assessment and negotiation.

Caregivers settlement

When Kristine Bartlett took her pay equity claim in 2012, she was being paid just $14.46 an hour, after 20 years experience in the sector. The offer settling the Bartlett pay equity claim lifts care and support workers' pay to between $19 and $23.50 from 1 July 2017, rising to between $21.50 and $27 in July 2021.

Her initial claim under the Equal Pay Act 1972 was referred to the Employment Court, then the High Court, resulting in judgments clarifying that the Act did indeed allow equal pay for work of equal value claims for women's and men's typically different work. The government, which funds most care work from our taxes, then set up a Joint Working Group to develop Principles for Implementing Equal Pay and another Joint Working Group to negotiate settlement of Kristine Bartlett's claim. After 17 months a settlement was announced which the government extended agreed pay increases to 55,000 care and support workers in aged care and disability residences, with staggered implementation of new rates from 1 July 2017.
See more about the settlement here.
See the whole story here
See the Care & Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act including Schedule of pay rates here.

See news of other state sector pay equity claims and settlements here, with pay increases of around 30%.

Human Rights Commission's petition for pay transparency!

April 2019 - The Human Rights Commission is calling on government to establish an independent pay transparency agency that can provide information and resources for equal pay and pay equity claims. CEVEP and other women's organisations' submissions requested an expert advisory unit, and for hourly wage data by sex and occupation to be made available from IRD returns. Amendments to the Equal Pay Act have not addressed these issues.