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State Services Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed an agreement with unions which will see the Government’s new pay equity principles applied for the first time.

In November the Government announced it had accepted the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. The Principles were developed by the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity to make it easier for women to file pay equity claims with their employers, and assist employers in addressing those claims, rather than having to go through the courts.

These legal changes are not yet in effect but the State Services Commission, on behalf of the government, and the Council of Trade Unions on behalf of unions, have agreed to apply the principles to current pay equity claims.

The first claims that will be progressed are:

the PSA’s claim for social workers employed by the Ministry of Social Development (and from 1 April 2017, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki); and the NZEI claim for education, behaviour and communication support workers employed by the Ministry of Education.

“It’s great to see the principles being used in this way and I would like to thank the unions for the pragmatic and collaborative approach they are taking to progressing these claims,” Mrs Bennett says.

The Government will amend the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations and a Bill is expected to be introduced this year.

“There will no doubt be things we learn as we apply the new principles in a real life negotiation process. This experience will help to refine and improve the changes to legislation that will be required to formally give effect to the principles.

“Pay equity is a priority for this Government. Occupations that are mostly made up of a female workforce shouldn’t be lower paid just because this work is and has been mainly undertaken by women,” Mrs Bennett says.  

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