Spark is being criticised for introducing a benchmark salary for its employees unions say is below the living wage.
The telecommunications company's new pay scheme means all full-time workers will earn at least $40,000 a year, but the Council of Trade Unions' Richard Wagstaff says it's not as good as it sounds.
"Their $40,000 salary that they're promoting is actually a little under the living wage which doesn't really inspire too much in terms of fair pay for people."
Spark says the pay scheme is a commitment to a higher-wage economy, and once you take into account staff benefits, the overall package is better than the living wage.
"We want to do the right thing for our people and to attract the best people to a career in Spark," says general manager of human resources Danielle George.
"If that sets a standard that encourages others to follow, that's got to be a good thing for New Zealand."
Benefits include credit towards Spark products and services, life and income insurance, flexible working arrangements and interest-free loans to buy company shares.
More than 250 employees have had pay boosts in the last two years to reach the new baseline level.
"This is about being a responsible employer - we will always look to do better, but this is our way of helping transform New Zealand into a higher-wage economy," says Ms George.