9 Mar 2009

Commission seeks target to reduce gender pay gap

7:45 am on 9 March 2009

The Human Rights Commission is calling on the Government to set a target for reducing the country's gender pay gap.

The commission says women earn 12% less than men, and the gap is even wider for many Maori and Pacific women.

It wants the Government to set a minimum target of halving the gender pay gap by 2012 and eliminating it by 2020.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor says many women are concerned about calls from the recent national job summit for fewer paid hours and nine-day fortnights.

She says any loss of earnings will mean lower-paid workers are not able to pay their bills.

Labour Party spokesperson for Women's Affairs, Sue Moroney, agrees that a target must be set, saying it seems the Government no longer has a strategy in place to deal with pay equity.

Ms Moroney says women should not shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden from the economic downturn because it has a greater impact on families, children and child poverty.

Uphold pay equity investigation - union

The education sector union says the Government must honour the findings of a pay equity investigation for education support workers if it is serious about tackling the gender pay gap.

The Government announced last month that it had stopped two pay equity investigations, saying the outcome would have led to unaffordable increases.

The NZEI union says an investigation into thousands of Ministry of Education support workers who work with special-needs children found they are significantly under-paid.

The union's national secretary, Paul Goulter, says the gap is gender-based, with the workforce made up almost entirely of women.

Mr Goulter says it is unacceptable that the Government has decided not to do anything about it.

Ms Moroney also wants the Government to honour pay equity investigations for school support staff and social workers.