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Pay Equity Up For Discussion

8 July 2002

Women’s Affairs Minister Laila Harré today launched a discussion document aimed at generating debate around the issue of pay equity in New Zealand.

Entitled “Next Steps Towards Pay Equity”, the document explores the background of the issue in New Zealand, explains the concept of equal pay for work of equal value, and outlines some of the policy options used to progress pay equity in other countries.

Although New Zealand has laws about equal pay for women and men doing the same job, and laws against direct discrimination, there is no current policy or legislation to ensure that women get equal pay for work of equal value.

The 2001 Statistics New Zealand Income Survey found that women were earning 84 per cent of men’s average hourly earnings.

Maori women were earning 74 per cent, and Pacific women 70 per cent of the average for all men. The gender pay gap has closed by just five percentage points over the past 17 years.

“What this tells us is that if we leave pay equity to the market the gap between men and women’s income for work of the same or similar value to society simply will not close,” Laila Harré said.

“This means we must start investigating policy options to achieve this end, and I want anyone who has a view on this to have their say on that via this discussion document.”

Laila Harré said research has shown that there are two main contributors to the gender pay gap – the time women take out of the workforce to bear and rear children, and the lower levels of pay for the occupations women are more likely to work in.

For instance, as homecare and childcare workers, cleaners and caregivers.

“This government has acknowledged the existence of discrimination, and we now want to rejuvenate and encourage discussion and debate about how we can address gender pay discrimination, and particularly how we might achieve equal pay for work of equal value.

“This means considering new policy options, and this document is about generating debate and discussion around these before we embark on the policy making process.”

The document is available from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs or at www.mwa.govt.nz under the heading “new publications”.

Feedback will be collected until November.

Ends

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