Equal Pay Amendment Act

The Equal Pay Amendment Act introduces a practical and accessible process to raise and consider claims of systemic sex-based pay undervaluation in pay in female-dominated occupations.

About the Act

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament on 19 September 2018. It passed its third reading late July 2020, and will come into force on 6 November.

It allows workers to make a pay equity claim using a process aligned with New Zealand’s existing bargaining framework. By making court action a last resort, the approach lowers the bar for workers initiating a pay equity claim, and uses a collaborative process more familiar to unions and businesses.

Under the Act, employers, workers and unions negotiate in good faith, with access to mediation and dispute resolution services available if they are unable to agree.

Read an overview of pay equity and the framework [PDF, 1 MB]

Read the Minister’s announcement on the passing of the Act(external link)

Background to the Act's development

Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles

In 2016, the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles (JWG) provided recommendations to guide the implementation of pay equity. It noted that the current framework in the Equal Pay Act 1972 relied on the courts to determine principles for assessing pay equity issues and setting pay rates.

The principles developed by the JWG aimed to deal with the complexity of the court-based approach. They did this by creating a new pay equity claims process, which was aligned with the bargaining framework in the Employment Relations Act 2000, for employees and employers to assess a pay equity claim and agree on a settlement if a pay equity issue was identified.

Recommendations from the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles [PDF, 2 MB]

Former Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill

In July 2017, the previous government introduced the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill which gave effect to the previous Government’s response to the Joint Working Group’s recommendations. Following the formation of a new coalition government in 2017, the Bill was not reinstated to Parliament.

The main Cabinet papers relating to the former Bill are accessible below.

The Cabinet paper in response to the proposals of the original Joint Working Group [PDF, 4.4 MB]

The Cabinet paper that sought approval to introduce the former Bill into Parliament [PDF, 165 KB]

Reconvened Joint Working Group 

In January 2018, the JWG was reconvened to provide further recommendations that addressed stakeholder concerns relating to the former Bill. The recommendations of the reconvened JWG were provided to ministers in February 2018 and were used to develop the Equal Pay Amendment Act.

The Ministers' press release and the Reconvened Joint Working Group's Principles on the Beehive website(external link)

Documents relating to the development of the Equal Pay Amendment Act

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament on 19 September 2018. It passed its first reading on 16 October 2018. Select Committee reported back on the Bill on 13 May 2019, and detailed some technical changes. Second reading of the Bill took place on 24 June 2020. Prior to the Committee of the Whole House, a Supplementary Order Paper was introduced, outlining changes that aligned the process in the Bill more closely to New Zealand’s existing employment relations bargaining process. It passed its third reading late July 2020, and will come into force on 6 November.

Read the Pay Equity Regulatory Impact Statement [PDF, 7.9 MB]

Read the Act on the New Zealand Legislation website(external link)

Read the Ministers’ announcement on the introduction of the Bill(external link)

Equal Pay Act: Improvements to pay equity legislation [PDF, 870 KB]

Equal Pay Amendment Bill: Outstanding Issues and Approval for Introduction [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Read the Supplementary Order Paper(external link)

Last updated: 05 November 2020