Report reveals high price Kiwi mothers pay to care

Report reveals high price Kiwi mothers pay to care

February 28, 2017

The Human Rights Commission says data released today shows the need for New Zealand businesses to get serious about actively addressing the gender pay gap, particularly for women having children.

The Effect of Motherhood on Pay report, released jointly today by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry for Women, revealed that the gender pay gap between women and men who are parents is 17 percent compared to five percent for non-parents.

This difference of 12 per cent is called the motherhood penalty, which rises for mothers who work part time compared with full-time.

The report, which investigates the effect of motherhood on women’s pay in New Zealand, is an excellent example of why workplaces need to be looking to address the causes of the gender pay gap, says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue.

“The results of this research are not surprising, with several studies showing that the gender pay gaps rises markedly when women take on caring responsibilities. For women, it is virtually impossible to recover any ground they lose while taking on caring responsibilities. This will continue until the culture within our workplaces changes,” Dr Blue says.

“Organisations need to consider whether their own policies and practices are contributing to the gap, and if they are, they need to take leadership and provide flexible work options and supportive environments for women taking on caring responsibilities.

“They also need to develop policies that eliminate unconscious bias, discrimination and negative stereotypes in the workplace, if we are to close the gender pay gap,” Dr Blue says.

The Commission has previously called for changes to legislation that would require companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender and ethnic pay gap. In view of this research, companies should also consider publishing the motherhood penalty gap. 

“What we can measure we can manage. For a business to close these gaps, will require a forensic analysis of where the roadblocks are and implement appropriate policies.

“Men also need to be encouraged to take on more child rearing responsibilities. Providing paid parental leave for fathers would go some way to addressing this,” Dr Blue says.

Human Rights Commission

The Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.