Pay and employment equity
Pay and employment equity is about ensuring that pay, conditions, access to the full range of jobs, at all levels of the workplace, and experiences in the workplace, are not affected by gender.
The term pay and employment equity encompasses equal pay (refer to Equal Pay Act below) pay equity and employment equity.
Pay equity means women receive the same pay as men for doing the same work, and for doing work that is different, but of equal value. The value of work is assessed in terms of skills, knowledge, responsibility, effort and working conditions. Other considerations in setting remuneration can include market factors, productivity and performance.
Employment equity is about fairness at work. It means identifying and removing barriers that prevent women from having equal opportunity to participate fully in employment.
Legislation that is relevant to pay and employment equity focuses on obligations related to equal pay and operating as a ‘good employer’. Requirements include employers developing and maintaining an equal employment opportunities (EEO) programme. ‘Good employer’ practices in terms of procurement/contracting can be defined as:
Compliance with relevant employment relations and human rights legislation as well as fair and ethical practices, such as:
- positive relationships with unions in the contractor’s trade or industry
- participatory mechanisms for employees, in addition to participation in matters such as health and safety
- observance of EEO principles and opportunities
- work/life balance policies
- provision of training and development opportunities, and
- ethics and integrity.
Relevant legislation includes the Equal Pay Act 1972, Employment Relations Act 2000, Human Rights Act 1993, Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, Crown Entities Act 2004 and State Sector Act 1988.
Equal Pay Act 1972
The Equal Pay Act 1972 provides a right to equal pay for male and female employees. Equal pay is generally understood to mean a rate of remuneration for work in which there is no element of differentiation between male and female employees based on sex – where the work of male and female employees is substantially similar and calls for the same or substantially similar degrees of skill, effort and responsibility and is done under similar conditions.
Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA) and codes of good faith
Part 9 of the ERA sets out the situations in which employees can raise personal grievances. These situations include where employees believe that their employer has discriminated against them by reason of a prohibited ground or that they have been subject to sexual harassment. The prohibited grounds of discrimination under the ERA are the same as those specified in section 21(1) of the Human Rights Act 1993 and include discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or family status.
Part 6AA of the ERA provides a statutory process for certain employees with caring responsibilities to request flexible working arrangements. These employees can request a variation to their hours of work, days of work, or place of work. To make a request under Part 6AA, an employee must have the care of any person and have been employed by their employer for 6 months prior to making the requests are to be made and responded to and also provides a process for resolving disagreements relating to a request. The only grounds on which an employer may refuse a request made under Part 6A are also specified.
Good faith is a central principle in the ERA. Employers, employees and unions must deal with each other honestly and openly. Specifically, the ERA:
- promotes good employment relations and good faith behaviour, which includes mutual obligations of trust and confidence between employers, employees and unions
- sets out requirements for the negotiation and content of collective and individual employment agreements
- provides prompt and flexible options for resolving problems in employment relationships.
- The ERA includes a code of good faith for the public health sector (Part 8A and Schedule 1B). This code applies to parties in the public health sector, including employers that provide certain services to District Health Boards.
More information about good faith, including codes of good faith.
Human Rights Act 1993
The Human Rights Act (HRA) makes discrimination unlawful on a range of grounds, including discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, and family status. Discrimination in employment is unlawful under the HRA:
- when an employer refuses or omits to offer or afford to that employee the same terms of employment, conditions of work, fringe benefits, or opportunities for training, promotion, and transfer as are made available for other employees with the same or substantially similar qualifications, experience, or skills employed in the same or substantially similar circumstances,
- because of the employee’s sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origin, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status, or sexual orientation.
The HRA also provides that other forms of discrimination in employment, such as sexual harassment, are unlawful. The HRA recognises both direct and indirect discrimination.
- direct discrimination occurs where people are disadvantaged because they are treated differently by reason of one or more of the prohibited grounds
- indirect discrimination occurs where any conduct, condition, requirement or practice has the effect of treating a person or group differently on one or more of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Indirect discrimination is unlawful unless good reason for it is established.
Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987
The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act provides employment protected leave and government-funded payment to eligible employees and government-funded payment to eligible self-employed parents. Currently, up to 14 weeks of statutory paid parental leave is available to eligible parents.
To be eligible for paid parental leave, employee birth mothers or parents intending to formally adopt a child, must have worked for the same employer for at least six months for an average of at least 10 hours per week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month, in the 6 or 12 months immediately before the baby’s expected due date or the date of assuming care of the child who the employee is intending to adopt. Mothers and adoptive parents can transfer all or part of their paid parental leave entitlement to their spouse/partner (including same-sex) if they are also eligible.
Up to 52 weeks of extended unpaid leave is available to parents who have worked for the same employer for at least an average of 10 hours per week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month, in the 12 months immediately before the baby’s expected due date or the date of assuming care of the child who the employee is intending to adopt. This leave can be shared between eligible parents.
Two weeks of unpaid partner/paternity leave is available to spouses/partners who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months, for an average of 10 hours per week. One week of unpaid partner/paternity leave is available to spouses/partners who have worked for the same employer for at least six months, for an average of 10 hours per week. Women can take up to 10 days of unpaid special leave prior to parental leave for reasons connected with their pregnancy, e.g. antenatal checks.
Crown Entities Act 2004
The Crown Entities Act provides that Crown entities and companies must operate personnel policies that comply with the principle of being a good employer. Among other things, this means operating a personnel policy containing provisions generally accepted as necessary for the fair and proper treatment of employees in all aspects of employment, including, but not limited to:
- recognising the employment requirements of women
- impartial selection of suitably qualified persons for appointment
- an equal employment opportunities (EEO) programme. An EEO programme aims to identify and eliminate all aspects of policies, procedures and other institutional barriers that cause or tend to cause or perpetuate inequality in employment in relation to any person or group of people.
State Sector Act 1988
The State Sector Act, section 56, provides that the chief executive of a Department must:
- operate a personnel policy that complies with the principle of being a good employer; and
- make that policy (including the equal employment opportunities programme) available to its employees; and
- ensure its compliance with that policy (including its equal employment opportunities programme) and report in its annual report on the extent of its compliance.
For the purposes of section 56, a good employer is an employer who operates a personnel policy containing provisions generally accepted as necessary for the fair and proper treatment of employees in all aspects of their employment, including provisions requiring –
- good and safe working conditions; and
- an equal employment opportunities programme; and
- the impartial selection of suitably qualified persons for appointment and
- recognition of
- the aims and aspirations of the Maori people; and
- the employment requirements of the Maori people; and
- the need for greater involvement of the Maori people in the Public Service; and
- opportunities for the enhancement of the abilities of individual employees; and
- recognition of the aims and aspirations and employment requirements, and the cultural differences, of ethnic or minority groups; and
- recognition of the employment requirements of women; and
- recognition of the employment requirements of persons with disabilities.
In addition, each chief executive shall ensure that all employees maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct, and concern for the public interest.
For the purposes of section 56 of this Act, an equal employment opportunities programme means a programme that is aimed at the identification and elimination of all aspects of policies, procedures, and other institutional barriers that cause or perpetuate, or tend to cause or perpetuate, inequality in respect to the employment of any persons or group of persons.
 Check out links on this website for information on the Wages Protection Act 1983, Holidays Act 1981, Volunteers Employment Protection Act 1973, Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, Machinery Act 1950, and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.