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Pay and Employment Equity in the public sector

13 May 2004

Pay and Employment Equity in the public sector

Actions to achieve pay and employment equity in the public sector are being endorsed by the government.

Last month, the government was presented with a report by a taskforce on pay and employment equity, set up to develop steps to address issues affecting women’s pay and employment. Today, Associate Labour Minister Ruth Dyson released the taskforce report and the government’s response to it.

“The Taskforce on Pay and Employment Equity has made a significant contribution to progressing pay and employment equity in the public service, public health and public education in its nine months of work,” Ruth Dyson said in thanking the taskforce for its work.

Set up in 2003, the taskforce was asked to advise the government on how the factors contributing to the gender pay gap apply in particular parts of the public service and public health and public education sectors and secondly, on a five-year plan of action to address those factors.

It was also asked to demonstrate the value of the policies it recommended and to provide a model for implementation in the private sector. The taskforce was chaired by Diana Crossan, with Joanna Beresford as co-chair, and was comprised of state sector chief executives and representatives of the NZ Council of Trade Unions.

The taskforce found three key workplace factors that contribute to pay and employment equity. They are: The jobs that women do (both their occupations and positions within those occupations) The valuing of jobs and, How jobs are organised particularly, the relationship between the structure of paid work and women’s job choices and progression.

Their key recommendations were: The government should make a clear commitment to pay and employment equity in the public service, the public education and health sectors. Tools should be developed to help assess pay and employment equity Existing processes such as collective bargaining and accountability mechanisms should be among the methods used to implement the plan to achieve pay and employment equity and, A unit should be set up to oversee the implementation of the action plan.

“The government has endorsed these recommendations and is now proceeding to implement them,” Ruth Dyson said.

“We have a clear commitment to pay and employment equity. The development of audit and gender-neutral job evaluation tools is proceeding now. We will be finalising our processes for remedial settlements of pay equity claims, by the end of July. The dedicated unit will be established within the Department of Labour by 1 July 2004. A tripartite steering group will oversee the unit and provide leadership and strategic direction for the plan.

“Over a decade ago, we had pay and employment equity legislation in New Zealand. The first act of the incoming National government in 1990 was to repeal that law. In the intervening years, the structures to deliver equity in the way envisaged in 1990 have been dismantled.

“We need a new and sustainable way to deliver equity and the taskforce report has provided that way forward.

“Our government is not only a leader as an employer in terms of treating men and women equally but we are also committed to valuing and maximising the contributions of women in the paid workforce.

“The significant work programme to develop the framework set out in the action plan can now proceed,” Ruth Dyson concluded.


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