Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

Pay Equity and Equal Employment Opportunity in New Zealand: Developments 2006/2008 and Evaluation

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

Pay Equity and Equal Employment Opportunity in New Zealand: Developments 2006/2008 and Evaluation

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper is the third in a series of papers updating developments relating to pay equity and EEO and evaluating their impact. As with the previous papers, it focuses primarily on gender, but also discusses the overall situation and touches on issues related to ethnicity, age and disability. In the last two years, the broad public sector, assisted by the Pay and Employment Equity Unit in the Department of Labour, has made significant progress in reporting on gender issues in most departments and in some parts of the public health and education sector, but practical action to reduce remaining gender pay gaps is a slow process. This paper will discuss these public sector processes and also the private sector situation in the context of a period where women have surpassed men in terms of education outcomes, therefore, the need for vigilance around women's position in the labour market is increasingly questioned. With respect to ethnicity, despite non-discrimination legislation, there is substantial evidence of problems encountered by many immigrants entering the labour market. The paper will examine recent evidence on discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, age, disability and reports/recommendations for its elimination.

Introduction

This paper is the third in a series of papers updating developments relating to pay equity and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and evaluating their impact. The 2006 paper concluded that reductions in gender and ethnic inequality in educational and other human capital acquisition have occurred partly from government action, however, partly in spite of it, they were likely to continue, given social change, pressure from the groups previously denied equal access, and the economic imperatives to use all our labour resources fully (see Hyman, 2006). These factors (i.e. government action, social change, etc) were assessed to be of greater significance than legal requirements and policy initiatives towards employment equity (Hyman, 2008). These predictions were close to the mark, however, current world economic, financial, and credit turmoil makes ongoing progress more uncertain. This paper examines and evaluates developments in pay equity and EEO in the last two years. It focuses mainly on gender issues but also touches on other dimensions of EEO, including age, disability and ethnicity.

Pay and Employment Equity (PEE) in the Broad Public Sector

The establishment and early work of the Department of Labour's Pay and Employment Equity Unit, in accordance with recommendations from the 2004 Taskforce on Pay & Employment Equity in the Public Service, Public Education and Public Health, was a major focus of my 2006 paper. Since then, Phase One of the work has been almost completed, with 35 of the 39 core public service organisations having finished their reviews. In the public health sector, 5 District Health Boards (DHBs) have completed reviews and others a validation process, leading to a Report and Response Plan which has gone to the Minister of Health. The public education sector is similarly placed with respect to schools and kindergartens. In Phase Two, local governments have started its reviews, with Gisborne District and Waitakere City Councils being the pioneers, together with three CRIs, while 14 polytechnics/institutes of technology and Te Wananga o Aotearoa are starting the tertiary education sector process and discussions are under way with universities. The Unit has provided tools and assistance to organisations undertaking reviews, with the processes streamlined and made more consistent, with a view to higher standards in later reviews. This was made possible through the development of the Pay and Employment Equity Analysis Tool (PEEAT), to help generate the relevant gender profiles from human resources data. The Unit's website, www.dol.govt.nz/services/PavAndEmplovmentEquity/index.asp, is extremely informative, with case studies of reviews from a number of departments, detail of the tools used, and a regular newsletter. …

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