Insight into the Kristine Bartlett equal pay case

Insight into the Kristine Bartlett equal pay case

February 13, 2015

When the Equal Pay Act which was passed in 1972, it was believed to be just about ensuring men and women received the same pay for the same work.

But the Equal Pay Case which is currently under consideration has turned that on its head.

The Kristine Bartlett equal pay case is a landmark case brought by the Service & Food Workers Union on behalf of Kristine Bartlett who has worked as a caregiver in the aged care sector for 20 years and who receives close to the minimum wage.

There is evidence that the Equal Pay Act 1972 applies to women not only receiving the same pay as men for doing the same work, but also for doing work that is different, but of equal value.

If this case eventually wins, and I believe it will, it will economically empower tens of thousands of women and their families who work in low wage, female dominated occupations. It will also assist in lifting families and children out of poverty.

There will be a domino effect in allied areas in the aged care sector such as kitchen workers and cleaners, and then it will undoubtedly impact in private sector businesses.

I am Chair of the Caring Counts Coalition. The membership comes from aged care providers, unions, ITO, Age Concern and Grey Power. We have written to the Deputy Prime Minister indicating that due to our diverse membership we are in a unique position to contribute to any government discussions that may take place in order to identify pragmatic and sustainable potential solutions to the issues highlighted in the Terranova v Bartlett case. We hope they take our offer up!


  • 2012: Kristine Bartlett  lodged application with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that she was not receiving equal pay as per Equal Pay Act 1972
  • Nov 2012: ERA agreed it should go direct to the Employment Court
  • Stakeholders all agreed that important questions of law should be examined before substantive case was heard.
  • June 2013: Employment Court Bartlett/SFWU v Terranova
  • August 2013: Employment Court supported Kristine’s argument centered around s 3(1)(b) of the Equal Pay Act
  • Jan 2014: the aged care provider Terranova appeals the August decision
  • Feb 2014: Court of Appeal; decision reserved
  • Nov 2014: Court of Appeal upholds the Employment Court decision
  • Nov 2014: Terranova appeals to the Supreme Court decision
  • Dec 2014: Supreme Court declines employer’s leave to appeal

EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue

Dr Blue is committed to progressing human rights and issues of equity, particularly those that affect equal employment opportunities.

Dr Blue also has a strong commitment to advancing the participation of women in society and is the Commission's lead on stopping violence against women.

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