Pay Equity Process

An Introduction

Kia ora e te Whānau

We are entering a period of historical change!

TIASA will be working with University sector, TEU and PSA to rectify long standing pay inequities between Men and Women.

This presentation is an introduction into the pay equity bargaining process.


  • We all want fair pay right?
  • So what is fair pay?

–Being paid for the knowledge and skill set required to do your job

–Being paid the same as the other people doing your work regardless of sex, ethnicity, sexuality

–Being acknowledged for all the parts of the work you do even if they are not in your job description

–Being acknowledged for what you contribute to the wider organisation


  • Women have historically been paid less than men.
  • Historically a woman working beside a man in an organisation would usually be earning less than a man in an identical position. It was assumed, among other things that a man needed to be paid more to look after his wife and family.
  • There are a range of social norms historically that mean that men were paid more than women, but also that Māori and Pasifika were paid less than pakeha.

The following extract gives us some of the thinking from more than 100 years ago when the Public Service Commission was first set up.  Donald Robertson was the leader of the new organisation

Have a read –

Robertson was an autocrat who saw the service as an essentially male bastion. After 1913, women were explicitly not allowed to take the Public Service Entrance exams, could only take up shorthand and typing jobs, and usually had to resign when they got married.

The Commissioner’s stance on the place of women in the service drew strong reactions from female officers. In 1914, the issue was taken up at the PSA conference, which endorsed a remit ‘that female employees of equal competence with male employees receive equal treatment as to pay and privileges’. In a subsequent exchange, Robertson expressed grave doubts as to whether women could ‘take charge of anything’ and asked aloud ‘Can you put women in charge of men?’ 10

  • The following poster is an excerpt from the royal commission on the Public Service 1912
  • What reasons are given for women’s pay being lower than men’s ?
  • Despite admitting that female workers may be higher performing than males in the workplace, the reasons that they should be paid less are:
  • Women cannot stand the strain of a rush
  • Women cannot stand the pressure of work
  • Women cannot manage responsibility
  • Women cannot manage promotion
  • And according to Donald Robertson, unable to manage men!
  • Despite misgivings over women’s skills and emotional development, the need to employ women to replace men in the workforce became stark in the world wars.
  • The fact that women performed well in industrial and agricultural work, formerly the domain of men, prompted reevaluation of women’s work.
  • The following slide is a recruitment drive in the US in World War 2.
  • The woman depicted is clearly smart and strong, but she would not have been paid the same as the man she replaced.
  • Despite proving that women could succeed in workplaces that had previously employed only men, women were paid less than their male counterparts
  • When the men came back from war the women had to vacate the workplace and go back home.
  • However the seed was sown and the numbers of women in tertiary learning and the workplace began to steadily increase, in particular with the growing provision of childcare for preschool children.
  • Despite greater participation in the work force, women’s pay remained significantly less than men’s.
  • The Equal Pay Act 1972 aimed to wipe out the underpayment of women within occupations in New Zealand.
  • The aim was that everyone who did the same work regardless of sex would be paid the same.
  • It became illegal to pay women less than men for doing the same work.
  • In 2020 The Equal Pay Act was amended to address occupational inequity.
  • Occupations where employees are predominantly female are paid less than occupations where employees are predominantly male.
  • The amendment allows individuals, unions and employers to work together to establish the skills and knowledge used in female dominated employment and to compare these with similar work in male dominated employment occupations.
  • The aim is to establish where pay is higher in male dominated areas and to make the pay equitable.


Occupations where most employees are women pay less than occupations where the employees are predominantly men

Female dominated

  • Pre school education
  • Primary education
  • Health care assistance
  • Librarians

Male dominated

  • Secondary teaching
  • Secondary teaching
  • Agriculture workers
  • Cadastral Surveyors
  • Health care workers were the first to go through the pay equity process and had their remuneration increased significantly
  • The DHBs have been through a successful pay equity process
  • In education there have been several successful reviews including for Teacher Aides and School technicians.
  • There have been no pay equity processes in the Tertiary Education Sector
  • In the university sector the non academic staff (allied) has been predominantly female
  • Because of this the three unions (TIASA, TEU,PSA) that cover “allied” employees have raised a claim with the employers under the Public Services Commission.
  • This claim has been accepted by the New Zealand Universities.

    Now the pay equity work really begins!


  • The tasks that people do in their work need to be established.
  • This will be done primarily by interview, questionnaire and survey. It is likely that people are carrying out tasks that are not represented in their job descriptions
  • A job evaluation tool will be used to ensure that the process is consistent
  • Interviewers and interviewees will be trained to ensure consistent depth of information is collected


  • The skills identified in the research phase will be compared with skills in male dominated occupations
  • A comparison will be made between pay rates for the same skill set between female and male dominated occupations


  • Negotiation will take place between the unions and the employers to reflect pay equity
  • When there is a proposed settlement the union will bring it to the members for ratification
  • When this is agreed the pay claim is settled

Final Steps

This is not a one off process
It requires ongoing monitoring and review to ensure pay rates do not slip back.


  • It is expected that the process will take two years or more
  • To achieve the best outcome we need TIASA members to be part of the process.
  • We need people to be prepared to train as interviewers, interviewees and comparators
  • This is challenging work but the rewards are great – you will be involved in redressing historical disparities in women’s pay.
  • If you would like to be involved contact

Further Information

This link will take you to the Public Services Commission site. There is further information as well as a couple of short video clips that could be useful to you.

Ngā mihi

If you have any questions or comments please contact