A new survey of early childhood educators has revealed that some are earning below the minimum wage.
The survey by the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) was taken to support a claim for pay equity for early childhood teachers.
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Some early education staff are struggling to make ends meet, and their union NZEI says that's affecting the quality of care and education in centres.
ECE NZEI Representative Virginia Oakly told Newshub that she is devastated by the "shocking" current pay situation.
"It's just disgraceful," she said.
Some unqualified teaching staff, including teacher aides and assistants, reported being paid as low as $15.75 an hour - 75 cents an hour below the adult minimum wage of $16.50.
Some qualified teachers are paid as little as $16.75 an hour, which is below the minimum rate for diploma qualified teachers of $19.74 an hour.
"They deserve better, because they're working without most vulnerable children. Working with children at a time with fast-paced growth and development," Ms Oakly said.
Some teachers have quit the sector because of the conditions, according to one educator.
"They were asked to work extremely hard in extremely poor conditions," Jessica Brown said.
The Ministry of Education says if teachers are getting paid below the minimum wage then they need to contact the Labour Inspectorate at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
It also says many providers of early childhood education are outside the state sector. These employers, like anyone else, are subject to Government policy in respect of the minimum wage.
It comes after primary teachers and principals rejected the Government's latest offer, which included an increase in the base salary by 3 percent each year for three years.
It didn't include reducing workloads and class sizes, or funding for supporting children with additional learning needs.