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Pay Equity Amendment Bill: more snakes and ladders

Pay Equity Amendment Bill: more snakes and ladders

If Kristine Bartlett’s 2013 claim had been taken under this new Bill, she’d still be waiting for pay equity, says the Campaign for Equal Value Equal Pay.

“We were expecting minor changes to update the 1972 Equal Pay Act and include new Principles,” says Prue Hyman for CEVEP. “But this looks more like amendments to National’s legislation last year, which this government threw out. It includes the same ‘snakes and ladders’ processes, so employers could delay facing up to pay equity for years.”

Another concern is changes to pay equity claimants’ right to back pay. The 1972 Equal Pay Act, just like employment and commercial law, gives women the right to six years’ back pay as part of a pay equity claim. But the Amendment Bill reduces this right for pay equity claims. “It is simply discriminatory to treat women differently under pay equity legislation.”

Ministers have said their intention is to provide a simple, accessible process for progressing pay equity claims. “But we’re not there yet with this Bill,” says CEVEP, “There’s a lot of devil in the detail that needs fixing.”

CEVEP urges the government to ensure that any amendments to the current legislation are clear improvements, and do not undermine women’s current rights to equality.

The Pay Equity Amendment Bill had its first reading in Parliament last Tuesday.

CEVEP is a voluntary organisation committed to reducing the gender pay gap in New Zealand through policy and initiatives to advance pay equity in general and equal pay for work of equal value in particular. Our members' expertise and experience spans the breadth and history of this important policy issue. CEVEP has campaigned for effective pay equity policy and legislation since 1986. Our activities include advocating to government and political parties, writing submissions and appearing before select committees, producing materials on pay equity for the public and the media, and organising tours of overseas experts to New Zealand. In 2013, CEVEP was invited to be an 'intervening' party to a pay equity test case taken under the Equal Pay Act 1972 by resthome caregiver Kristine Bartlett and the Service & Food Workers Union (now E Tu).

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