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 announced it will implement a set of pay equity principles by updating the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act 2000. 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
The Ministry for Women is working with the State Services Commission (SSC) to address gender pay gap issues in the public service. Public service organisations now report to the SSC on their gender pay gaps and include information on the action they are taking to address them in their four-year strategic plans.
Further SSC work in this area includes a cross-agency working group to increase the prevalence of quality flexible work arrangements in the public service, and increasing diversity in senior leadership.
Ongoing monitoring and reporting through the SSC’s annual Human Resources Capability survey (HRC) is an important tool for prompting progress. The latest HRC makes more data publicly available than ever before, including gender pay gaps for individual agencies, and average salaries for men and women in different ethnic groups.