Government consults on new legislation
On 20 April 2017, two days after the caregivers' settlement was announced, the government released anf 'exposure draft' of a new Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) bill. This will replace the current Equal Pay under which Kristine Bartlett made here successful claim. The government is consulting on this draft until 11 May.
It has finally been demonstrated that the current Act can work to deliver equal pay for work of equal value for New Zealand women. The legislation should not be changed unless those changes will clearly work better than the present Act. In CEVEP's view, the government's draft bill will clearly work much worse. Our full analysis will follow shortly.
as the very On 18 April 2017 a settlement of the Terranova case was announced. In July 55,000 care and support workers in aged residential care, disability and home support will receive a pay rise to betwen $19 and $23.50, rising to between $21.50 and $27 in July between $19.00 and $23.50 from 1 July, rising to between $21.50 and $27.00 in July 2021. See more here.
Other pay equity claims in progress
As well negotiations on equal pay for caregivers, there are now several other claims in progress. The Public Service Association has lodged claims under the Equal Pay Act for Child Youth & Family social workers and care and support workers. In November 2016 it was in discussion with the State Services Commission on these claims. It is also considering possible claims for clerical workers employed in hospitals by District Health Boards and for library assistants in local government public libraries. The Tertiary Edcuation Union is considering a claim for library assistants in tertiary institutions
Equal Pay Act claims are also pending in the courts for special education support workers (whose job evaluation assessment was dropped by the incoming government in 2009). On 12 April 2017 the Ministry of Education agreed there is sufficient merit to advance a pay equity claim for education support workers over the next 15 weeks, including assessing the work, looking at comparators and beginning negotiations towards a settlement. This will use the Principles for Equal Pay adopted by government last year. As NZEI say, "Education support workers deserve a speedy result after fighting for more than 10 years for fair pay."
In 2015 the NZ College of Midwives launched legal proceedings against the government alleging that inadequate remuneration in midwives' contracts for services was due to gender discrimination. In August 2016, just before the court date for a judicial review, the Ministry of Health offered mediation. On 5 April 2017 the parties announced a 'funding codesign project' that will be in line with the principle that equal pay has no element of gender-based differentiation and is free of systematic undervaluation, as outlined in the government Principles for Equal Pay.
Evidence of the gender pay gap in NZ
In March 2017 the Ministry for Women released statistical research on the gender pay gap that updated Sylvia Dixon's 2002 work. Gail Pacheco, Chao Li and Bill Cochrane, Empirical Evidence of the Gender Pay Gap in New Zealand confirms a decade-long gap of 12-12.7% between women's and men's average hourly pay. Their investigation of wage-related data on gender differences in personal and household characteristics, education, occupation/industry, region, part- or full time employment links these factors to part of the gap, leaving 64.4-83.4% 'unexplained'. Women's educational attainment now matches or exceeds men's, but taking age as a proxy for years in the workforce, controlled for marital status and childcare responsibility, shows that women are not begin rewarded for experience. The gender pay gap is greatest in the upper income deciles, reaching 20%; the law setting a minimum wage linked to the median puts a floor under both women and men in the lowest income decile.
The pay penalty attached to women concentration in particular occupations and industries is investigated only at the broadest level of categorisation (1 digit). In future work these researchers plan to investigate occupational segregation by sex in the New Zealand labour market. As MWA notes, this curent report does not test the undervaluation of female dominated occupations.
A recent Statistics NZ analysis of The Effect of Motherhood on Pay measured the difference in the gender pay gap between parents of one or more children and non-parents of both sexes. It found a gender pay gap of 17 between female and male partents, compared to 5% with non-parents: that is the motherhood penalty is around 12 percentage points. The penalty is larger for mothers working part-time compared to those working fulltime, but comparison of part-time workers is affected by the very small gender pay gap between non-parent part-timers (who are likely to be mainly young or older workers).
Equal pay claim for retail assistant
An equal pay claim for retail work was filed with the Employment Relations Authority but recently settled out of court. A part-time retail clothing sale assistant with 30 years overall experience, five years with the firm and strong performance was paid the minimum wage. The retail industry is not exclusively female; about 30% of all retail sales assistants are male, and about 12% in retail clothing, are male. The company itself employed no males. The claim was made against male earnings in the retail sector only, to avoid protracted debate about other suitable comparators.
Expert remuneration evidence presented at the hearing drew on 2013 Census income data and job categories. Each retail industry sector showed a clear disparity between male and female retail sales assistants. The greater the percentage of women in the sector the less the disparity. Conversely, the fewer females in the retail sector, the greater the disparity – in the same retail sales assistant role. The gender pay gap in retail appears to be widening. The pay range for men was between $13.75 and $21.15 per hour across the industry, while for women this was between $13.51 and $15.91 per hour.
This claim was made by an individual without union involvement, and a confidential settlement was reached after the hearing. However, the claim has potential to be applied more widely, as female retail wages consistently - and increasingly - lag behind male wages.
See Marie Dew, The Equal Pay Act: Where is it at? Law Talk 904, NZ Law Society. Fox v T& T Fashions Ltd, Employment Relations Authority 5525066, April 2015.
CEVEP notes that the undisclosed settlement provides parity with the retail sector but may not go the full distance to a 'pay equity' rate. Given the female dominance of retail work, and clothing retail in particular, the average pay for males may also be distorted by an overall gender bias within this sector - as the Court Judgments in Bartlett vs Terranova noted. Selecting male comparators in jobs or sector beyond as well as within the retail sector would aim to address this issue.
Pay equity petition
Over 10,000 women signed the Action Stations petition to the government to adopt the General Principles for Pay Equity and other recommenations by the Joint Working Party (see below), sending a strong message to government that 'It's time for pay equity'.
The Tertiary Education Union is supporting this with a great new poster about the gender pay gap. If you'd like to print this off and put it up on a notice board, you'll find a clearer pdf of it here.
General Principles for Pay Equity
On 24 May 2016 a Joint Working Party submitted recommendations to Cabinet on a set of Pay Equity Principles. We are currently awaiting government's response.
This arose as part of the Bartlett vs Terranova case. Christine Bartlett's union asked the Employment Court to state general principles for the implementation of pay equity under s.9 of the Equal Pay Act. As this was the first time s.9 had ever been used, it was raised as a question of law. The Employment and Appeal Courts agreed that this course could be followed.
However, in November 2015 the government established a Joint Working Party on Pay Equity Principles to develop and recommend to government its own General Principles for the Implementation of Pay Equity. The Joint Working Party comprised four officials, six unions and four employer representatives. No women's organisations were asked to participate. When CEVEP and the Auckland Pay Equity Coalition requested inclusion, we were invited by government facilitator Dame Patsy Reddy to make written submissions. CEVEP's submission commented on the Terms of Reference and proposed our own General Principles for Pay Equity.
Running in parallel with this Joint Working Party, a second government-led Working Party was established to explore possible settlement of the Bartlett pay equity claim, which is due to return to court in 2016. The government has stated that any such settlement will apply to all carers employed in state-funded residential care. As at 7 August 2016 we are awaiting possible settlement.
Statistics NZ's 2015 Income Survey was released in October. It showed that women are earning on average 86.1% of men’s average hourly ordinary time earnings (women $25.35 an hour, men $29.44).
The median hourly earnings for women in June 2014 were 88.2% those of men, although the actual rate paid was lower than the average (women $21.23, men $24.07). This is less equal than last year, when the median was 90.1%.
Read more about the gender pay gap here. including the latest gender pay gap figures. Statistical explanations can be found here. The full tables of the June 2013 Income Survey can be found on Statistics NZ's website.
In 2013 the Service & Food Workers Union is supporting one of its members, Kristina Bartlett, to take an equal pay, equal value claim under the 1972 Equal Pay Act. The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition and CEVEP were 'intervening parties' in the first stage of this important test case, where the full Labour Court considered preliminary questions of law. With a great result!
The Employment Court ruled that, for work done exclusively or predominantly by women, wider comparisons than just to male employees in the same organisation would need to be made if that male pay was also likely to be affected by gender discrimination. It disagreed that comparisons with employees in other enterprisees or industries are ‘unworkable’; expertise is available. Terranova paying four male caregivers the same rates as Kristine was not a complete defence against an equal pay claim. It also ruled that the Court had power under s.9 to make general statements of principle to guide negotiations under the Act.
This judgment allowed the case to proceed to its second stage, when the skills, responsibility, years of service, effort and conditions of work required in Kristine Bartlett's low paid job caring for the elderly will be - thanks to the above ruling - compared to men with similar levels of skill, etc. in jobs and sectors that historically employ exclusively or predominantly men.
Terranova lodged an appeal, which was heard in Wellington on 3-4 February 2014. The Appeal Court's judgement of 28 October upheld the Employment Court's ruling. A further appeal to the Supreme court was rejected.
In late 2015, the government called together a Joint Working Party to negotiate a settlement that it has stated will apply to all carers working in state-funded residential care. As at 9 March 2017, we are still awaiting the outcome of these negotiations. See media comment. See more on Bartlett and SFWU vs Terranova Homes...
This case is part of Fair Share for Aged Care, a campaign run by the SFWU and the NZ Nurses Organisation. It aims to win fair pay and decent conditions in aged care through collective bargaining and increased government funding for the aged care sector.
The campaign is led by the Equal Pay Challenge Coalition, a broad coalition of community, employer, union, and academic groups who are committed to putting pay equity issues back on the government's and New Zealand's, agenda. CEVEP is an active member of the Coalition. On 10 November 2015 an Equal Pay Picnic was held on Parliament' s lawns to mark the day this year when New Zealand in effect begin to work for nothing. To illustrate this, coffee was sold for 14% more to men and their free apples were cut by 14%!
Another Pay Equity Coalition is active in Auckland, coordinated through the Auckland Women's Centre. One member of this is the YWCA, which began its campaign activism with a petition to Parliament in 2012.
Unions representing large numbers of women have long been behind the push for effective policy on employment equity for women. The NZCTU recognises that pay equity policies and legislation can be an effective strategy for raising poverty-level wages, alongside an adequate minimum wages and their Living Wage Campaign. See more...
Picnic for Equal Pay
Tuesday 10 November 2015 was the day New Zealand women effectively started working for nothing for the rest of the year. It was the occasion for a great picnic on the lawn of Parliament, attended by women MPs and some men from all political parties.
www.cevepnz.org.nz - 13 April 2017