The Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 26 July 2017. This is to reflect the outcome of negotiations between the New Zealand government, unions, and other stakeholders following litigation about the effect of the Equal Pay Act 1972 following the Court of Appeal decision in Terranova v Service and Food Workers Union that the Equal Pay Act 1972 contains a pay equity regime under which employers are obliged to pay the same pay for work of equal value for work that is exclusively or predominantly performed by women.
The Bill provides mechanisms for the settlement of pay equity claims through a bargaining framework. Any employee may raise a pay equity claim with their employer. The employer must assess and determine the merit of the claim based on factors set out in the Bill. If the employer accepts the claim has merit, the parties enter into Pay Equity bargaining. The employee can challenge an adverse decision by the employer, and if the bargaining reaches an impasse the parties may access mediation, facilitation, or determination by the Employment Relations Authority.
The Bill also contains an alternative mechanism for progressing claims based on gender discrimination in relation to pay. These largely replicate provisions which exist under the existing legislation, but provide a supplementary process for dealing with such claims.
Although the Bill has been referred to a select committee, timing of its implementation is currently unclear as Parliament has now been dissolved pending the coming General Election.