New Zealand has enacted a new law that will guarantee pay parity between men and women, ensuring that no individual should be paid less on account of their gender. The New Zealand parliament passed the Equal Pay Amendment Bill unanimously and hopes are that this will result in fairer economic outcomes for all citizens.
While equal pay legislation has been in force in New Zealand since 1972, this new bill goes further by assuring women in roles historically dominated by females, and which often have lower remuneration, are paid the same as men in different roles that have historically been paid more. This means that equality is not just guaranteed between the same roles but across different fields of work, guaranteeing equal pay for equal labor.
The New Zealand government has drawn up guidelines as to how to compare work in different roles and in different sectors of the economy. The new law will also make it easier for employees to lodge court actions against those employers who are paying less than they should.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said of the new law:
“In 2017, we said we’d fix the legislation aimed at addressing historic inequalities in pay for women. Today, we have. The bill delivers on our promise to create a more equitable Aotearoa (New Zealand) by making it easier for employees to raise a pay equity claim, and by encouraging collaborative mediation before issues are escalated to the courts. To everyone who got us to this point, for all the years of hard work, thank you.”
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Richard Wagstaff, president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU), who was influential in passing the bill added:
“Working women have been campaigning to equalize the gender pay imbalance for decades. The passing of new equal pay law provides structure and support in fixing the systemic problem of paying women less because of their gender.”
New Zealand has long been at the forefront of gender equality. It was the first country to give women the vote, in 1893, and is ranked 6th in the world in terms of gender equality. The Prime Minister in 2019 was also the first female leader in the world to go on maternity leave while she was in office.
Photo: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks to reporters at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. Jan. 28, 2020.