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Women paid less than men need better law

21 February 2013

Women paid less than men need better law

The Government should adopt the Green Party bill to change the Equal Pay Act to allow women to check they are being paid the same as their male colleagues for the same job, says the Green Party.

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day that New Zealand women effectively stop working for free and start earning income in comparison to their male colleagues who on average earn 12% more.

“Prior to the 2011 election John Key said he was open to working with the Green Party on ensuring women received equal pay for the same work,” said Green Party Women’s Affairs spokesperson Jan Logie.

“We would like to take the Prime Minister up on that offer and work together on passing modernising improvements to our equal pay legislation.

"Adopting my Members’ Bill, to give women the ability to check they are paid fairly under the law, would send a positive message to women that their work is valued by this Government.

"Despite having the Equal Pay Act since 1972, there is anecdotal evidence that many women are still paid less than men for doing the same job.

“While the current law says employers have to pay workers equally, there is no mechanism for most women to check that is occurring and to legally enforce their rights.

“My amendment to the Equal Pay Act modernises the Act and would throw a spotlight on actual pay rates for men and women doing the same work.

“There is almost no way for women to actually check if their legal right to equal pay is being enforced. We need a modern enforcement mechanism to make the Act work.

“The sexist outburst about women in the workforce by former employers lobby group head Alasdair Thompson highlighted the negative attitudes of some employers to women in the workplace. Women should have a legal recourse to deal with these attitudes.

“Ensuring women can enforce their right to equal pay is a progressive step that the Government should support on Equal Pay Day”

Note on Green Party Equal Pay Act amendment
The Green Party’s proposed changes to the Equal Pay Act would require employers to record the gender of their employees along with other current reporting requirements. Workers and unions would then be able to request that information on pay levels by gender in their workplaces to assess whether the Equal Pay Act is being applied.

A copy of the Bill can be found here

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