ILO Convention 100 on Equal Remuneration requires governments to ensure equal pay for women doing the same work as men, and also for women and men doing different work shown to be of equal value, 'by objective appraisal'.
Gender neutral job evaluation is recognised internationally as a very useful tool for achieving gender equity in pay and employment conditions. Tools for undertaking pay reviews and gender neutral job evaluations are available to New Zealand employers from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Labour Information website, and from experienced specialist New Zealand practicians such as Top Drawer Consultants in Wellington.
Gender neutral job evaluations establish the ‘size’ of a job relative to others jobs, by measuring and comparing the factors involved. Typical job factors are the level of skills, knowledge and formal qualifications, years of relevant experience, levels of responsibility of different kinds, the demands and effort the jobs requires, and working conditions in the job.
Evaluations score each factor on a points scale. Different jobs can then be compared by looking at the total points and the pay rates for each job. A job typically done by women may be found to require more, less or the same degree of skill, responsibility and effort as a job typically done by men, even though the work content is different.
In this way, responsibility for people can be evaluated alongside responsibility for money or property. Recently designed systems recognise the value to employers of what is sometimes termed ‘emotional labour’ (such as caring for patients, or service in hospitality), by rating skills in human relations, emotional support and responsibility for client wellbeing.
Job evaluations provide a clear and fair measure of the relative value of jobs, both within organisations and for comparing occupations and wages across organisations and across sectors. When women or minority ethnic groups are 'crowded' into particular jobs, industries or sectors that reflect women's traditional roles (e.g. health care), it may be necessary to look outside this female-dominated sector for a fair comparison.
For New Zealand employers, gender neutral job evaluations allow 'exclusively or predominantly female work' to be compared with typical male jobs by comparing points scores on factors such as 'skills, responsibility and service, effort...conditions...and degrees of effort' - as required by Section 3(1)(b) of the Equal Pay Act 1972.
Not just any old evaluation
It is important to use a modern 'gender neutral' job evaluation tool.
Job evaluation systems were first developed by large corporations and organisations to structure their pay systems and 'size' jobs, with no thought given gender discrimination. Early systems, including Hays, tended to perpetuate traditional gender biases.
There is now a substantial body of research and jurisprudence on gender bias in job evaluation. The Department of Labour's Gender Bias in Job Evaluation: A Resource Collection includes excerpts from key cases, guidelines and research (request from MBIE). For example, the 2009 decision in Hartley v Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on job evaluation in the UK National Health Service provides detailed reasoning and guidance on job evaluation and gender bias.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides an Equitable Job Evaluation System and a Spotlight Skills tool for use by New Zealand employers. These have been developed using a team with expertise in job evaluation and gender equity to address aspects of job evaluation that have been found to give rise to gender bias. It can inform human resource processes that would benefit from complete, accurate and contemporary job description and analysis that is free from gender bias.
The Equitable Job Evaluation System assesses 12 job factors organised into three factor families. The skills factors are: knowledge, problem-solving, interpersonal and physical skills. The responsibilities factors are: responsibilities for leadership, resources, organisational outcomes, and services to people. The demands factors are: emotional, sensory and physical demands, and working conditions. The system was developed and tested on a range of public sector jobs in New Zealand in 2005-2006.
There is an extensive explanation of these tools on MBIE's Labour Information website.
Why pay equity matters for employers
MBIE's Labour Information website puts the business case for pay and employment equity:
www.cevepnz.org.nz - 24 September 2013