The Government has been acting to reduce the gender pay gap for more than 50 years. The Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 introduced equal pay legislation into the public service. Women were to be paid the same as men for doing the same work under the same conditions. This was followed by the Equal Pay Act 1972 which extended equal pay to the private sector.
The gap still persists but work is underway to address this. The Government has implemented a set of pay equity principles and updated the pay equity legislation. This will make it easier for women to file pay equity claims with their employers, rather than having to go through the courts and assist employers in addressing those claims.
The Government continues to raise awareness about the gender pay gap and its drivers, and to work with business and public service leaders to generate more urgency around closing the gap.
The public service
Manatū Wāhine Ministry for Women is working with Te Kawa Maataho Public Service Commission to address gender pay gap issues in the public service through the dedicated Equal Gender Pay Taskforce.In 2018, the Public Service Gender Pay Gap Action Plan Te Mahere Mahi Rerekētanga Ira Tangata 2018-2020 was launched. During the period of the Action Plan the public service gender pay gap has dropped by 30 percent, from 12.5 percent in 2018 to 7.7 percent in 2022.
Pay gaps have reduced for all groups of women across the period of the Action Plan, but pay gaps for wāhine Māori, Pacific women and women from ethnic communities have remained consistently higher than for European women. To better address these gaps, and to build on the successful foundations of the Action Plan, Kia Toipoto a new Public Service Pay Gaps Action Plan was launched in November 2021. Kia Toipoto is a three-year action plan to be implemented by agencies and Crown entities over 2021-24. It sets the following three-year goals: substantially reducing gender, Māori, Pacific and ethnic pay gaps, accelerating progress for wāhine Māori, Pacific women, and women from ethnic communities, and creating fairer and more inclusive workplaces for all. Public service agencies publish annual pay gap action plans which describe how they are closing their gender pay gaps. Here are the published gender pay gap action plans for agencies in the public service, as at 9 September 2020.
Ongoing monitoring and reporting of gender and ethnic pay gaps through the Te Kawa Maataho Public Service Commission annual workforce data publication is an important tool for prompting progress. The workforce data includes gender pay gaps for individual agencies, and average salaries for men and women in different ethnic groups. The Ministry's gender pay gap data is not included in the public service workforce data because it does not meet the threshold required to produce meaningful high level gender pay gap statistics as specified in the Stats NZ guidelines for measuring organisational gender pay gaps. The Ministry does not meet the requirement of having at least 20 men and 20 women within its workforce.
In the spirit of openness and transparency the Ministry does measure and has chosen to publish its gender pay gap for the past three years, but the number itself, given its volatility is not a good measure of gender equality in the Ministry. The Ministry's gender pay gap, for the past three years has been: 8.5 percent (2021), 7.6 percent (2020) and 1.1 percent (2019) in favour of men. Care needs to be taken with the interpretation of the figures as changes in the Ministry’s staffing (even small changes) make the figure volatile.
Since the gender pay gap is not a robust measure for the Ministry, it uses other measures to monitor gender equity within its organisation. These measures include workforce profile, people data and recruitment statistics, to help indicate progress. The Ministry ensures that employees in the same or similar roles are paid equitably (i.e. there are no like-for-like pay gaps). The Ministry is committed to the principles and actions in the Public Service Gender Pay Action Plan of addressing equal pay, flexible by default, removing bias or discrimination from remuneration systems and human resource practices, and gender-balanced leadership, and supporting the implementation of Kia Toipoto the Public Service Pay Gap Action Plan 2021-24.