The government has been acting to reduce the gender pay gap for more than 60 years.

The Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 introduced equal pay legislation into the public service ensuring women in the public sector were to be paid the same as men for doing the same work under the same conditions. This was followed by the Equal Pay Act 1972 which extended equal pay to the private sector.

The gap persists today but work is underway to address it. The Government has implemented a set of pay equity principles and has updated the pay equity legislation. The Equal Pay Act was amended in 2020 to include a clear, accessible process to raise and work through a pay equity claim. This legislative change makes it easier for people to file pay equity claims with their employers, rather than having to go through the courts, and will assist employers in addressing those claims.

The government continues to raise awareness about the gender pay gap and its drivers, and to work with business and public service leaders to generate more urgency around closing the gap.

The Employment Strategy outlines a vision for the labour market with improved employment outcomes for all New Zealanders. Te Mahere Whai Mahi Wāhine Women’s Employment Action Plan is part of the Strategy. Te Mahere Whai Mahi Wāhine includes actions on pay transparency, pay equity, and wider supports for women’s employment, training, and education opportunities that will improve employment pathways and have positive impacts on all groups of women in the workforce.

In August 2023, it was announced that a mandatory gender pay gap reporting system would be introduced in a step towards pay transparency. This system will require organisations with over 250 employees to report their gender pay gaps, then over time extending to organisations with over 100 employees. Pay gap reporting complements government initiatives underway to address gender pay gaps and pay equity, including introducing Kia Toipoto in the public service (read more below) and amending the Equal Pay Act in 2020. 

Eliminating the gender pay gap in the public service

Manatū Wāhine is working with Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission to address gender pay gap issues in the public service through the dedicated Te Rōpū Whakarite Utu Ira Tangata Equal Pay Taskforce.

Pay gaps have reduced recently for all groups of women across the public sector, but pay gaps for wāhine Māori, Pacific women, and women from ethnic communities have remained consistently higher than for European women. 

The gender pay gap in the Public Service continues to decrease. As at 30 June 2023, the gender pay gap was 7.1%.

To better address these gaps, Kia Toipoto, a new Public Service Action Plan was launched in November 2021. Kia Toipoto is a comprehensive set of actions to help close gender, Māori, Pacific, and ethnic pay gaps in the Public Service over 2021-24.

It sets the following three-year goals:

  1. Making substantial progress toward closing gender, Māori, Pacific, and ethnic pay gaps.
  2. Accelerating progress for wāhine Māori, Pacific women, and women from ethnic communities.
  3. Creating fairer workplaces for all, including disabled people and members of rainbow communities.

Ongoing monitoring and reporting of gender and ethnic pay gaps through the Te Kawa Maataho Public Service Commission annual workforce data publication is an important tool for prompting progress. The workforce data includes gender pay gaps for individual agencies, and average salaries for men and women in different ethnic groups. 

Further reading: Gender Pay Gap

The Ministry has published a range of reports, action plans, and resources on the Gender Pay Gap.