The start of the year has seen a flurry of activity in the pay equity discussion, with the release of the Ministry for Women and AUT's report entitled Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand,[1] therelease of a short report by the Ministry for Women and Statistics New Zealand on the effect of motherhood on pay,[2] and the introduction of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill in Parliament.

Gender pay gap due largely to unexplained factors, such as unconscious bias

The Ministry for Women and AUT's 28-page report found that the national gender pay gap has fluctuated around 12% since 2002 and that 80% of the gender pay gap was due to "unexplained" factors - rather than drivers such as family responsibilities, education and age.

In fact, the report found that while women were paid less on average than men, women now outstripped men "at almost all educational attainment levels". [3] The Ministry views the "unexplained" factors primarily as "behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions about women in work, including unconscious bias."

The "motherhood penalty"

The gender pay gap is even greater between parents. The Ministry for Women and Statistics New Zealand released a report at the end of February 2017 which found there was a 17% pay gap between what mothers and fathers earn in the workforce – a difference the Ministry calls the "motherhood penalty". This pay gap was significantly larger than the gender pay gap between non-parents (5%).

Introduction of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill

On 23 March 2017 the Equal Pay Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament.[4] The bill amends the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the Employment Relations Act 2000 to remove discrimination in pay rates between men and women in the same jobs by making publicly available statistical information relating to their rates of remuneration.

AWLA will be following the progress of this Bill.



[1] Ministry for Women Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand (March 2017) available at: http://women.govt.nz/work-skills/income/gender-pay-gap/research

[2] Ministry for Women & Statistics New Zealand Effect of motherhood on pay – summary of results (28 February 2017) available at: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/Income/motherhood-penalty-summary.aspx

[3] Utilising 2015 Income Survey Data, the Report found that women earn on average $25 per hour, while the comparable average for men was $29 per hour. However, the proportion of men with a bachelor's qualification or higher in 2015 was 22.5%, while the proportion of women with a bachelor's qualification or higher was 30.5%.

[4] An update on the progress of this Bill can be found at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_72692/equal-pay-amendment-bill