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Green Party will change law to ensure equal pay

20 November 2011

Green Party will change law to ensure equal pay

The Green Party has said modernising the Equal Pay Act to bring it up to date with current employment practices is a key issue it wants to work with the next Government on, and there is evidence business is ok with the move.

Green Party Women’s Affairs spokesperson Catherine Delahunty wrote to the 50 largest companies in New Zealand to see if they supported greater transparency to ensure the Equal Pay Act was being implemented. Significant companies such as Foodstuffs, ANZ, Fonterra, Sky City, Telecom and Farmers said they did.

“There is business support to change the law to make it work better. This is a simple change that has popular support and would mean a lot for women,” said Ms Delahunty.

“Former EMA head Alasdair Thompson’s sexist comments earlier this year show why we need to change the law. Some employers do treat men and women differently. We need transparency so discrimination can’t happen.

“While it has been illegal to pay men and women differently for doing the same job since 1972, there is anecdotal evidence that it is still happening.

"One way to close the gender pay gap is to make sure the existing Equal Pay Act is being enforced. My Equal Pay Amendment Bill makes the 1972 Act relevant in the twenty first century

“It is nearly impossible to prove there is an equal pay issue using the current law because it is very difficult to find out gender pay information.

“Many workers have individual contracts now, so pay rates for the same job are often not printed and public like they were in 1972 when the current law was written.

“Our changes will make it easier for women to make sure they are paid equally and fairly.

“It is an important change to ensure equal pay and to help close the gender pay gap.

“The Greens have led the way on this issue and our Equal Pay Amendment Bill is in the Parliamentary ballot and ready to go.

“The Green Party is happy to work with any party in Parliament to progress this very important change,” said Ms Delahunty.

The Green Party’s proposed changes would:
1. Require employers to record the gender of their employees in addition to current reporting requirements.
2. Give workers and unions would the right to request information on pay levels by gender in their workplaces to assess whether the Equal Pay Act is being applied.
3. Require the Department of Labour to aggregate data on gender pay around the country and make it publically available to assist women to find out if there is gender pay discrimination.
4. Protect privacy in small workplaces by using independent reviewers to assess whether there is a gender pay issue.

For more information
Green Party’s Equal Pay Amendment Bill
http://www.greens.org.nz/bills/equal-pay-amendment-bill

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