Gender pay principles


Working environments in the state sector are free from gender based inequalities. All employees are able to achieve their full potential regardless of their gender, and gender pay gaps are eliminated.


After the PSA filed a claim against the State Services Commissioner, the Gender Pay Principles Working Group was established. It was made up of unions, state sector agencies and the Commission, and through a collaborative process it agreed the principles set out here.


Inequities in the labour market are caused by deeply embedded views, values and practices. Change requires genuine engagement and sustainable solutions. These Principles are a living and practical set of guidelines for use by all state sector agencies. They stand alongside other initiatives to reduce and eventually eliminate these inequities. The principles of partnership, protection, and participation embodied in Te Tiriti O Waitangi will be advanced and applied in the workplace.


These principles recognise the employment cycle begins before an employee takes up their job. It includes recruitment, remuneration, training and development, career progression, leave, flexible, and part time arrangements. It also includes periods in and out of the workforce. By addressing policies, decision-making and practice at each point, agencies can make a real difference.


While the focus of the Principles has been the core state sector, they are relevant to other sectors. The Working Group is confident the Principles have broader application.


1. Freedom from Bias and Discrimination Principle

Employment and pay practices are free from the effects of conscious and unconscious bias and assumptions based on gender.

Issue statement

Bias and discrimination occurs at every point throughout the employment cycle. Conscious and unconscious bias impacts negatively on women’s employment, pay and progression opportunities. These negative impacts are compounded when gender is combined with other factors.

This means

  • Decision makers recognise and act to remove the impacts of conscious and unconscious bias
  • Employees, unions and agencies actively raise awareness amongst all staff of gender stereotyping and conscious and unconscious bias
  • Employees, unions and agencies jointly evaluate policies and practices to identify where and when gender bias and discrimination can occur
  • Agencies take action to prevent gender bias and discriminatio before it occurs
  • Employees, unions and agencies pay particular attention to the compounding impacts of gender combined with other factors
  • Agencies value gender diversity and prioritise active protection from discrimination
  • Leaders and decision makers develop strong relationships with Maori women to reduce opportunities for bias and discrimination to occur.


2. Transparency and Accessibility Principle

Employment and pay practices, pay rates and systems are transparent. Information is readily accessible and understandable.

Issue statement

Transparency and accessibility is essential to the sustainable elimination of gender pay gaps. Maintaining transparent employment and pay practices is likely to prevent gender pay gaps from occurring and attract and retain a diverse and committed workforce.

This means

  • Pay rates and systems are transparent and easily accessible
  • Gender pay gap information is audited and published annually
  • Gender pay gap information is disaggregated to understand the compounding impacts when gender is combined with other factors
  • Agencies publish plans for addressing gender pay gaps, ensuring that they are readily available to all employees and their unions
  • Where collective agreements are negotiated, they include pay rates and pay systems that are transparent and accessible to all.
  • Agencies identify where insecure work arrangements contribute to workplace gender inequalities.


3. Relationship between Paid and Unpaid Work Principle

Employment and pay practices recognise and account for different patterns of labour force participation by workers who are undertaking unpaid and/or caring work.

Issue statement

Women and men have different patterns of participation in the paid workforce, primarily because women spend a greater proportion of their time on unpaid and/or caring work. As a result women are disadvantaged in areas such as pay, progression, security of employment and retirement income. When women’s skills and experience are not recognised, they are underutilised and undervalued in the workforce.

This means

  • Employees, unions and agencies recognise that women currently undertake a greater share of unpaid and/or caring work in society which has negative impacts in the workplace
  • Agencies take active steps to ensure that time out of the workforce for unpaid and/or caring work does not result in disadvantage in pay or barriers to progression
  • Decision makers scope jobs and allocate work in a way that positively recognises different patterns of participation
  • Skills and experience gained through unpaid and/or caring work are utilised and rewarded
  • Agencies normalise flexible and part time working arrangements for all positions and employees without adversely affecting security of employment
  • Employees, unions and agencies create workplace environments that support and encourage men’s participation in unpaid and/or caring work.


4. Sustainability Principle

Interventions and solutions are collectively developed and agreed, sustainable and enduring.

Issue statement

Remedying gender inequalities and closing gender pay gaps requires continuous organisational commitment and collective engagement to achieve sustainable systemic change. Integration of the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and addressing the needs and perspectives of Maori women is essential.

This means

  • Senior leaders make an ongoing commitment to eliminate gender inequalities and allocate budget and resources accordingly
  • Employees, unions and agencies jointly set explicit goals and timeframes to eliminate gender pay gaps
  • Agencies collect, analyse and monitor data to identify all the factors that contribute to their gender pay gaps
  • Interventions and solutions are informed by data and best practice
  • Employees, unions and agencies jointly monitor, evaluate and adapt plans to ensure equitable outcomes are sustained
  • The application of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its principles is adapted to new and changing circumstances
  • Agencies undertake specific planning and resourcing to achieve equitable outcomes for Maori women
  • Collective and/or individual agreements are key mechanisms for ensuring that changes are sustained
  • Agencies consider how these Principles apply to all employment arrangements, including contractors.


5. Participation and Engagement Principle

Employees, their unions and agencies work collaboratively to achieve mutually agreed outcomes.

Issue statement

Employees, their unions and agencies have a shared interest in achieving sustainable outcomes and cultural change. Effective participation and engagement in a high trust environment promotes organisational performance. Inclusive processes support social, cultural, environmental and spiritual wellbeing. Collective ownership of solutions is achieved through effective communications and genuine input.

This means

  • Genuine input is sought from the design phase and throughout the process
  • Employees, unions and agencies jointly develop, implement, monitor and evaluate plans to address gender pay gaps
  • Employees, unions and agencies use collaborative processes, including collective bargaining, to agree and implement plans
  • Employees can see their experiences and voices reflected in decision-making
  • Agencies actively engage with women in a way that is inclusive and recognises their diversity and different perspectives
  • Leaders and decision makers develop strong relationships with Maori women to ensure their needs and perspectives are addressed
  • Where collective agreements are negotiated they include agreed mechanisms to implement these Principles.

For more information also refer to the Action Plan for eliminating the gender pay gap in the state sector.