Government working on laws to fix gender pay gap

Minister for Women Julie-Anne Genter has her eyes firmly fixed on gender pay equity legislation for the gender pay gap. 

Greens MP Julie-Anne Genter said even accounting for age, experience, education the gender pay gap still persists in 2017. Source: Breakfast

With the average New Zealand man earning 13.1 per cent more than their female colleagues, today marks the date after which women will effectively be working for free for the rest of the year.

Greens MP Julie-Anne Genter said even accounting for age, experience, education the gender pay gap still persists in 2017.

Central to the new government's pay equality legislation will be the new Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter, who spoke on TVNZ1's Breakfast today on the causes of that inequality.

"The gender pay gap is the legacy of historic discrimination, and so once you account for age, experience, education, all of those factors, there's still an unexplained gender pay gap," Ms Genter said.

"About 80 per cent of that, it's hard to determine exactly what causes it, but unconscious, conscious bias - it's something we can overcome, but we have to recognise it exists and have explicit measures and policies in place to end it."  

The new Labour-led Government is working on new laws to reduce that gender pay gap, after scrapping the previous National Government's pay equality bill introduced to Parliament in July this year.

It was not taken lightly by some of the most prominent female National MPs, that one of the Labour-led Government's first policy undertakings last week was to completely scrap the National Party's own pay equity legislation introduced in July.

Senior female National MPs have taken aim at the PM for her decision. Source: 1 NEWS

On the first sitting day of Parliament last Wednesday, November 8, National MPs, Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams and Judith Collins all made a concerted swipe at Jacinda Ardern and her Labour-led Government over the policy scrap.

"It is a very sad day that one of the first actions of our woman Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to remove this piece of legislation," Ms Kaye said.

Ms Genter, unsurprisingly, has a very different take on the new government's decision to redraft an entirely new pay equity legislation based off the original joint government and industry working group report.

"Because the (National) government saw this as a fiscal liability rather than a core responsibility of government to make sure people are paid properly for their work, when they brought their pay equity and equal pay legislation to the house, it contained some provisions around merit," Ms Genter says.

As part of her new role as Minister for Women she says the government aims to close the gap within four years' time. Source: Q+A

"What this government is going to do, we've scrapped that legislation, it's not going to pass, it won't put in place hurdles and barriers for cases that are already going to the courts."

The existing New Zealand gender pay gap has men paid on average 13.1 per cent more than their female colleagues.

This means that today, November 14, effective marks the date women in New Zealand working for free the rest of 2017.

Ms Genter says new legislation to remedy this gap, which has been stagnating for 10 years, will be introduced to Parliament next year.