The following is a statement from Dr Jackie Blue, Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights Commissioner, regarding the Equal Pay Amendment Bill which was introduced to Parliament yesterday afternoon:
“It is encouraging that pay equity moved a step forward with the introduction to Parliament of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill on the day the country celebrated 127 years of women’s suffrage. Pay equity is a right that the suffragists pressed for in the 1890s and New Zealand women pushed for again with the Equal Pay Act 1972.
As Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, I welcome the proposed amendment to the Equal Pay Act that will make it easier for women to make claims for fair and equal pay. However, fundamental and complementary to an equal pay regime is pay transparency. In order to raise a claim under the new bill, it is vital that workers have the information to benchmark their individual pay situation.
The new bill is complaints based in that women will be required to raise the complaint of unequal pay with their employer. I would also like to see the onus on the employer to do regular pay equity audit checks
There is also an opportunity to incorporate the gender pay principles that have been adopted by the public service. These principles will cover women in ‘mixed occupations’ where they do not necessarily dominate the sector they work in, but none the less may be paid unfairly.
I look forward to the passage of this bill and the opportunity for the Commission to make a submission.”