Business owners and employers should be aware that there is new employment legislation on the horizon.
The Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill is now in the Select Committee stage. If the Bill is passed into law in its current form, it will replace the Equal Pay Act 1972 and amend the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Bill provides a process and principles to assess and resolve pay equity claims.
The Bill focuses on work which has historically been performed by women and whether, in the circumstances, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the work has been undervalued.
If one of your employees makes a pay equity claim the Bill requires you to consider whether the claim has merit. The following applies:
- Where the claim has merit, the parties will enter into a prescribed bargaining process to assess the nature of, and remuneration for, the work in a gender neutral manner
- Where you as their employer don’t accept that the claim has merit you must notify your employee in writing with your reasons, and
- Where resolution can’t be reached, the dispute resolution provisions in the Employment Relations Act 2000 apply.
Given the uncertainties relating to the upcoming general election, we anticipate that if the Bill (in some form) is going to be passed into law, it will be a number of months away. We will keep you posted.