News Article

latest news in employment law

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill

Published 01 Oct 2018

With still a lot of controversy around the backpay portion of the Bill, the amended Bill was nevertheless introduced to Parliament. 

The aim of the Bill is to eliminate and prevent discrimination, on the basis of sex, in remuneration and any other term and condition of employment. 

The two main proposed amendments to the Bill are to provides employees with the right to make a pay equity claim, which will include backpay and a simple and accessible process to initiate such a claim. 

Employees have the option to;

  • lodge a claim under this act; or
  • raise a personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act; or
  • claim under the Human Rights Act.

Employees are only allowed to seek a hearing at one of the abovementioned forums and The Bill also permits Courts and the Employment Relations Authority to award backpay in equal pay determinations.

The Bill is trying to make Court action the last resort as the process is set for the employee to first lodge a claim directly with his/her employer, where they then have to negotiate and try to settle the claim. Settlement can be in the form of compensation and/or change to any other term and condition of employment. 

The Bill now also has guidelines in terms of determining if a claim has merit or not; 

  1. Does the claim relate to work predominantly performed by women; and
  2. Are there reasonable grounds to believe that the work has historically and currently been undervalued. 

The backlash from BusinessNZ is not against the actual Bill determining equal pay, but rather against the backpay portion as backpay could "raise affordability and sustainability issues" for some businesses and can result in more litigation. The financial impact of backpay might be just too much for certain businesses to carry. 

We eagerly await the feedback from Parliament.