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Green MP Jan Logie’s Equal Pay Amendment Bill, which was drawn from the ballot last week, seeks to provide greater transparency and remove gender discrimination in the workplace.
In brief, the bill requires businesses to make pay rate information available to the Ministry for Business, Information, and Employment for publication.
Catherine Flemming, a Senior Associate at Kensington Swan Lawyers, told Salient that this transparency is a “fundamental component of an equal pay regime that works.” Without this kind of information, “employees have no way of knowing if there is an equal pay issue in their organisation or not.”
The Human Rights Commission has also praised the bill, saying this kind of reform is timely, especially “given the important conversations taking place around pay equity in New Zealand.”
The conversation around pay equity has been driven by the government’s agreement to implement the recommendations made by the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles.
However the prospect of provision of pay information has led some experts to question the full workability of the bill. Flemming says, “how personal information is dealt with is one of the areas that is not fully resolved in the current version.”
As an example, Flemming stated that “although the Bill provides for an ‘independent reviewer’ process to protect confidential information,” there is no “clear path” forward if that reviewer decides the information might support a discrimination or pay equity complaint. For this reason, Flemming says the balance between pay equity and confidential information has yet to be determined.
Salient reached out to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Woodhouse, who declined to comment.