Minister for Women 'ambitious' yet realistic about power of new pay-equity bill: 'There's no silver bullet'

Source: 1News

The Minister for Women says she is "very ambitious" about the government's pay equity bill slated for mid-2018 setting a real foundation for change, but has conceded true pay equality across all sectors is still many years off.

Greens MP Julie Anne Genter said this morning the government's new pay-equity bill will be about stripping away hurdles for applicant claims, after a Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles reported back after being reconvened last month.

"The approach the previous government was suggesting would have made it harder (to make pay-equity claims) because you had to start by comparing within the same industry," Ms Genter said.

"And ultimately pay equity is all about recognising historic underpay because it's a female-dominated industry.

"That's really important, if we're going to close the gender pay gap and get fair pay for women we have to make it possible to take these pay-equity claims."

The Labour-led Government scrapped the previous National Government's 2017 pay equity bill as one its first legislative acts in power.

But although buoyed by plans to present fresh pay-equity legislation by June or July this year, Ms Genter was non-committal on a time frame for equal pay across both the public and private employment sectors.

"Well, I'm very ambitious. Obviously I've already said coming in as Minister for Women we want to close the gender pay-gap in the public sector, and we want a good legislative regime that we can be on a pathway to do that in the private sector as well," Ms Genter said.

"Within the public sector, that's probably where we can do it the fastest, we want to do it within four years, with like-for-like.

"But it's been too long, it's been 125 years since women got the vote and we still have this persistent pay gap, and so many are low-paid workers."

"There's no silver bullet but, hey, this is a great foundation for women being paid fairly.

"A great step, and so good to have this alignment between business, and the workers, and the government, saying this is a much better approach, we need to simplify the approach"

The gender pay-gap in New Zealand currently sits at 9.4 per cent.