Mind the gap! Taking action on gender pay

While the latest statistics show how persistent the gender pay gap remains, our efforts are starting to produce some real gains for women.

Gender Pay BW2Statistics NZ data shows a 9.3% difference in the median hourly earnings of men and women in 2018 - a significant improvement on the 16.2% difference in 1998, but largely unchanged from 2017.

That’s despite substantial pay equity settlements for occupations including Oranga Tamariki social workers, care and support, and mental health and addiction workers.


Another lever the PSA is using to address employment inequalities are gender pay gap action plans, which aim to deliver on equal pay, flexible work arrangements, the elimination of bias in remuneration, and gender balanced leadership.

PSA policy advisor Sue O’Shea says most public service departments have completed or are making action plans as required by Government.

“Those plans are starting to make a real difference for women through improvements to starting salaries, the introduction of flexible work by default pilots, and changes to parental leave provisions,” Sue says.

“The salary increases we’re seeing for some lower paid workers is particularly pleasing, as the statistics show these groups are likely to have a higher proportion of Māori and Pasefika women.”

Sue says it’s also heartening to see “collaboration in action”, with unions, agencies and the State Services Commission working together on the plans.

While the public service is obliged to implement action plans, the PSA encourages other sectors to use them as a model.


The PSA is also a partner in a campaign led by the Human Rights Commission to introduce pay transparency to help close the gender pay gap.

PSA delegates are adding their voices to the campaign, which calls for pay scales to be made visible so discrimination can be identified. 

“Without pay transparency, it’s kind of like fighting fog. You are trying to validate to yourself and to others that this problem exists,” says Nancy McShane.

“As a Pacific woman of colour, there is extra effort and hoops that I need to jump through. There is a group of people in society that miss out because of what they look or sound like and that is so wrong,” says Nia Bartley.

Gender Pay Principles:

The gender pay principles were launched last year and are helping to guide the development of action plans. They are:

  • freedom from bias and discrimination

  • transparency and accessibility

  • relationship between paid and unpaid work

  • sustainability

  • participation and engagement

For more information go to: www.ssc.govt.nz/our-work/the-gender-pay-gap-and-pay-equity/

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