Pay and employment equity
It's time women were paid 100%, unless something’s done soon, today’s working women will never be paid on an equal footing with men - It’s quite possible our daughters won’t either.
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly rate for women and for men. It’s closing at a snail’s pace, and we’ve still got a long way to go.
Women graduates are paid, on average, 6 per cent less than their male counterparts at the very start of their careers. Within four years, they are earning nearly $5,000 a year less and the gap continues to widen.
In the public sector, women are paid 14 per cent less than men but it’s an average that conceals massive pay gaps, up to a staggering 42 per cent at the Ministry of Defence.
The gender pay gap represents a huge loss of earnings over a working life that can severely limit a woman’s choices and those of her children. It can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and scrimping on food and heating costs.
Support work is paid around one-third less than work with similar levels of skills and qualifications but largely done by men.
Work done mainly by women is generally undervalued; skills and experience are largely ignored.
In the past, men were the bread-winners and women the carers and home-makers. When women entered the paid workforce, they were paid less than men by law. Historical assumptions still influence the pay difference between men and women.
Community-based support services for the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill are funded mainly by the government but provided by a minimum-wage workforce, mainly women. The low rates of pay don’t reflect the value of this essential work nor the range of skills required.
A job evaluation commissioned by the PSA found that support work is paid around one-third less than work with similar levels of skills and qualifications but largely done by men. Last year, the Employment Court found that a support worker’s $14.32 hourly rate was the result of gender discrimination in breach of the Equal Pay Act. The ground-breaking decision is under appeal.
Administrative work is another example of undervaluing work done mainly by women. In hospitals, it’s the only occupational group not to have national rates, with the result that, in some parts of the country, admin workers are paid little more than the minimum wage.
Men who work in these sorts of jobs are also disadvantaged by these low rates of pay.
Even in occupations that are not traditionally undervalued, women can experience discrimination and lower pay.
Fewer women are appointed to the higher-earning senior positions. Women make up 60 percent of the public service workforce but only 30 percent of the top jobs.
Discretionary pay systems, which have prevailed across the public sector, have been shown to disadvantage women. Women tend to be placed on lower starting rates than men with equivalent skills, and experience slower salary progression.
Gender pay gap: Gap between women’s average pay and men’s average pay.
Equal pay: Same job. Same pay for women and men.
Equal pay for work of equal value: Different job, same job size.Same pay for women and men.
Pay equity: Same average pay for women and men.
Job evaluation: Tool to measure job size.