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Widening pay gap a concern

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
13 October 2005

Widening pay gap a concern

The widening gap between men’s and women’s incomes is worrying and shows that more work needs to be done on pay equity, says EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor.

“Women’s increased labour market participation has had lots of attention but it is only part of the picture. How much women get paid in fulltime and part time work is also critical.

“It is clear from the latest figures that women are segregated in particular occupations that have not received their share of recent pay rises."

The NZ Income Survey for the June 2005 quarter shows that pay for fulltime men went up approximately 6.3 % since the June 2004 quarter, compared with 3.2 % for women. The rates for part time male workers increased by 8%, as compared to 2.8 % for women. Overall this means that the gender pay gap has increased – with women earning 82% on average of what men do, as compared to 86% in 2004.

Average hourly earnings increased significantly in agriculture and fisheries, trades, and plant and machine operators and assemblers. “These are not areas that women traditionally work in. The figures show that occupational segregation, which is evident in a number of industries and occupations including the popular Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, is part of the picture.”

The wider gap for part time work may also reflect the reality of some women having to accept lesser paid jobs when re-entering the labour market after having a family.

Specific and deliberate strategies around pay equity have to be continued and strengthened because the gender pay gap will not be resolved through ordinary market approaches and bargaining mechanisms, the EEO Commissioner said.

The Government may need to accelerate and strengthen its five year commitment to the Pay and Employment Equity Unit which is currently working in the education, health and public sectors.

Other strategies such as progressively improving the minimum wage, and targeting specific sectors where women dominate in low paid work such as care-giving, and further work on occupational de-segregation should also be integral to improving the widening pay gap.

ENDS

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