“For every dollar a Pākehā man makes…” – the latest development in addressing gender and ethnicity pay gaps

Mandatory reporting systems that would require businesses to report their gender pay gap might be on the (distant) horizon.

In March 2022, the Parliamentary Education and Workforce Committee recommended that the Government develop pay transparency measures as part of their report on pay transparency.  In the same year, research had shown there was around a 9% difference between men’s and women’s earnings, and that the gap was usually unexplained.  Pay gaps were also observed between ethnic groups and for people with disabilities. 

This report and recommendation came one year after the infamous Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry Report, which found that for every dollar a Pākehā man made in 2021, Pākehā women earned 89 cents, while Māori men earned 86 cents, and Māori women and Pasifika men earned 81 cents.  The earnings for Pasifika women were reportedly the lowest, at 75 cents.

The Government has recently announced that it intends to implement mandatory pay reporting systems which would at first require businesses with more than 250 employees to publicly report their gender pay gap, and later those with more than 100 employees.

Legislation to address the issue of gender pay gaps (and implement any such reporting system) is likely a while away.  It has not yet been drafted, and although on the Government’s agenda, progress will not be made before the upcoming election.  Additionally, there are of course no guarantees of its fate after the election.

However, the issue is longstanding and has been described as having “remained stubbornly” at the same level for the last decade.  Action is clearly needed to make progress in this space, and interest groups have certainly been turning up the pressure for change.

The next phase for the intended legislation is public consultation.  The Government has indicated that, in addition to gender, it is also interested in addressing ethnicity pay gaps, and would like wide ranging input from stakeholders.  At this stage, it does not seem that the legislation will address disparities for people with disabilities, although this could change.

Whether legislation will indeed come to fruition, it is worth watching this space for any further developments.  We will keep you updated!

If you have any questions about gender and ethnicity pay gaps in the workplace, please get in touch with our Employment Law Team or your usual contact at Hesketh Henry.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article is current at the date of publishing and is of a general nature.  It should be used as a guide only and not as a substitute for obtaining legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be sought where required.

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Media contact - Kerry Browne
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