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Commission welcomes Equal Pay Act decision

Commission welcomes Equal Pay Act decision

The Human Rights Commission welcomes Thursday’s judgment of the Employment Court in Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota Inc v Terranova Homes.

One of the findings of Caring Counts, a report published by the Human Rights Commission in 2012, was that carers in the residential care sector were predominantly female and their work correspondingly undervalued, raising issues about equal pay and interpretation of the Equal Pay Act 1972. The Union took the case on behalf of a number of its members. This preliminary hearing sought direction on the correct interpretation of s.3 of the Act which sets out the criteria to be applied in determining whether an element of differentiation in remuneration based on sex exists.

The Human Rights Commission intervened. It was pleased to see that the decision reinforces that conventional methods of statutory interpretation employed by the Court took into account human rights implications the Court noting that an interpretation that was consistent with the Bill of Rights and sought to eliminate discrimination against women was appropriate. The Commission considers that this accords with the intent of Parliament at the time of passing the legislation and the sentiments expressed in the speeches made in Parliament during the passage of the Act by Prime Minister Marshall and MPs Thompson and Muldoon.

The substantive hearing has yet to take place and the defendant has 28 days to decide whether to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal.

The decision and the Commission’s submission are available on the www.hrc.co.nz.


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