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Government releases draft Pay Equity Bill

21 April 2017

The government is defending its Pay Equity Bill following criticism from unions, which say the proposed law is fundamentally flawed and a step backwards for women.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said it's a key step towards implementing recommendations from the joint working group which previous year proposed a set of principles for raising and resolving pay equity claims through bargaining.

This week, the Government announced a $2 billion pay equity settlement for some of the health sector's lowest paid workers following the TerraNova pay equity claim.

"I want to thank the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ for providing early feedback on the draft Bill".

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"It's absolutely critical that women making claims of equal pay are able to find comparators that find the gender pay gap - and this bill, as it stands, inhibits that".

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today released an exposure draft of the Pay Equity Bill for public consultation.

There were still issues to work through, he said.

"BusinessNZ will continue working with the Government and unions towards consensus-based outcomes".

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Rather than allowing for the negotiating parties to proceed on the basis of a general agreement over comparable roles, it forces them into pre-negotiations to agree on specific roles, before mediation can begin.

However, Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said it contained a "limiting mechanism" for choosing and agreeing comparators for claimants which was at odds with the existing Equal Pay Act, the recent Court of Appeal Judgement and was impractical.

A draft National Party Bill will put more barriers in the way of women seeking to be paid fairly, the Green Party said today.

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Government releases draft Pay Equity Bill