Pay gaps and their resolution

You’ve likely read about the recent court decisions and government offer to settle a pay equity case for healthcare workers.

If accepted by Cabinet and Unions pay rises will roll out to care and support workers in healthcare in July 2017 and increase each year until parity is reached.

A few examples of the press around this:

ODT: Women set for big pay rise 18 April

Stuff: Health care workers just the beginning of equal pay story 25 April

NZ Herald: Watch: Kristine Bartlett’s emotional reaction to pay equity win 18 April

NZ Herald: Big pay rise for women: Deal likely to alarm private sector 18 April

If you are part of a non-profit that works in this area you’ll be well versed on the ins and outs and the top level effect on your P&L but this pay settlement is likely to be the start of a significant shift for many non-profits and not just those working in healthcare.

Commentators have suggested that we are seeing one aspect of systematic oppression of women in one area of work ending but possible effects could be:

  • Better qualified staff could be attracted to affected roles
  • Can more be expected of better paid staff?
  • Other aspects of systemic oppression weakening, but which ones?
  • A ratcheting up of pay for other posts within affected organisations may be expected eg supervisors, managers, administrators, CEOs? How would this be funded? What if it wasn’t?
  • The availability of workers in competing sectors may reduce as they are attracted to better paying work. Why work for a social service when health pays better?
  • Other undervalued groups may take court actions
  • The fight for fair pay may receive a boost
  • Other sectors may follow suit eg education support workers case is already underway
  • Labour market competition raising all wages

That’s a lot to think about for any non-profit employer when finding enough to pay current wages can be a struggle but it’s an opportunity for us all to consider the need to fairly remunerate staff not just to avoid court cases but also to do our part in delivering fairness.

Having recognised an open stable door the Government is hoping to ensure an orderly exit by introducing new legislation.

The Draft Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill is out for consultation now along with a redacted cabinet briefing paper:

Written submissions on the Bill are welcome until 5pm on Thursday 11 May 2017.

We encourage you to submit comments.

An interesting aspect of the proposed legislation is that it won’t address pay disparity between ethnic groups, age or anything other than gender.

Update: here’s the agreed position that is going to work​ers for ratification

Care and Support Equal Pay Negotiations - Agreed Position (1)