Where is the leadership on equal pay for work of equal value?

The gender pay gap in the public service is worse than in the private sector. I’ve always found this particularly galling because I expect our Government to provide an example to the private sector on things like human rights, rather than lag behind it.

The Government is a major (under)-funder of jobs where women are not getting equal pay for performing jobs that may be very different but are of equal value  to jobs men are doing – ie. they are being exploited. The State Services Commission has an obligation to ensure the public sector pays women properly.

Rest homes workers are largely paid out of health budget, social workers through MSD, midwives again through health, educational support workers through education etc etc. I believe, and the evidence is fairly clear, that in all of these jobs women are being exploited because they are working in female dominated industries doing traditional women’s work.

While Health have been leading the pay negotiations for Kristine Bartlett and other caregivers,  State Services has been the Government department leading the working group developing the principles for how to take equal pay claims to Court when you believe you’re not being paid the same as another job of similar skill and value, that is male dominated.

Yesterday in select committee I asked the State Services Commissioner whether they will be including implementing the pay equity principles, once they’re signed off, in Commissioner’s letter’s of expectation to chief executives.

His response was bewildering to say the least. He said they took equal pay seriously and were working on a women’s leadership programme, and flexible working hours, encouraging diversity.

None of this has anything to do with equal pay principles or delivering equal pay for work of equal value.

I drew this to his attention and he didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. So just after saying that State Services is leading on equal pay, the Commissioner seemed to display a complete misunderstanding of the basics of what equal pay is.

It’s inexplicable but very telling to me that the Commissioner doesn’t understand this major area of work, which is supposed to be important to the government.

The Minister did clarify that she could not commit to anything before cabinet makes a decision on the principles.

Oh for some leadership!

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