Gender pay gap talks a step forward

Gender pay gap talks a step forward

There's been a breakthrough when it comes to improving the pay of women.

The Government has set up a process that could see pay rates improved in female-dominated jobs.

Marianne Bishop has been a carer for 39 years. She says it is a tough job that can involve feeding, bathing, and even shaving people.

For this, many workers in the sector get paid $15 an hour – but now there's a chance to get more.

Thanks to a court ruling known as the Kristine Bartlett case, the Government will negotiate new pay rates with 50,000 workers in the aged care sector.

Ms Bartlett argued her employer Terranova was breaching the Equal Pay Act by fixing caregiver wages at a low rate because 90 percent of workers were female.

The Government today announced that to avoid similar legal action, it will look at how to fix the pay gap in industries dominated by women.

"We could continue down the line of court cases, or we think that it's prudent that we actually get together a working group," says Minister of State Services Paula Bennett.

The Government has set up a joint working group on pay equity with unions, and in exchange unions will put equal pay legal action on hold until March 2016.

The union side will be led by Helen Kelly.

The issue is that men in such industries earn an average hourly wage of $24.07, compared with $21.23 for women – a difference of 11.79 percent, or $2.84 an hour. 

The talks are a step forward in the fight to close the gender pay gap.

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