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Sick leave stats show little difference between men & women

June 24, 2011

PSA says sick leave stats show little difference between men and women

Figures for sick and domestic leave obtained by the PSA under the Official Information Act show just 1.6 days difference between that taken by men and women working in the public service.

The figures based on data in the State Services Commission’s Human Resources Capability Study show that in 2010 men took on average 6.8 days sick and domestic leave annually while women took 8.4 days.

“Given that the majority of responsibility for children and other family members falls on women, I’m surprised there isn’t a larger difference in the amount of days taken,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“What the statistics clearly show is that women are not taking days off each month because of periods as Employment and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Alasdair Thompson claims.

“Research from the recent PSA Women’s Survey shows that women are working long hours and gifting millions of dollars worth of extra work each year that they are not being remunerated for,” says Ms Pilott.

“A conservative estimate of that unremunerated work amounts to nearly two-and-a-half million hours of work annually. In monetary terms that’s around $54.5 million or $90.3 million if based on the public sector average hourly overtime rate.

“In other words our women members are gifting the equivalent of 1360 full-time jobs annually – that doesn’t sound like an unproductive sector of society to me,” says Ms Pilott.

The PSA represents 40,000 women who work in all parts of the public sector. Half of the survey respondents reported working extra hours, but only one in 10 of those is paid for doing so.

“People are calling for Alasdair Thompson’s resignation, but what is really needed is a strengthening of the Equal Pay Act.

“Despite a proud history on advancing women’s rights, a huge gender pay gap remains in the New Zealand workplace and in some agencies is increasing. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of transparency around pay.

“Before the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit was dissolved in 2009, it found gender pay gaps in all but one public service department. In all other departments, pay gaps between men and women doing similar jobs ranged from 3-35 percent,” says Ms Pilott.

In 2010 the Human Rights Commission found that the gap was increasing in some departments and was up to 38 percent in the Ministry of Defence.

“What women need is equal pay for equal work and greater flexibility to balance their work and domestic responsibilities. Despite a growing need for flexible working arrangements the PSA Women’s Survey found that fears about job security and not wanting to burden co-workers are key reasons why flexible working arrangements are not taken up more. Unions and employers need to work together to turn this around,” says Ms Pilott.


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