In 2017, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to fix legislation aimed at addressing historic inequalities in pay for women. Following up on her promise, the country’s parliament has unanimously passed an Equal Pay Amendment Bill that ensures workers are not paid less because of their gender.
The equal pay legislation goes beyond ensuring men and women are paid the same for the same work — which has been enshrined in New Zealand law since 1972. The amendment bill focuses on pay equity by ensuring women in historically underpaid female-dominated industries receive the same remuneration as men in different but equal-value work.
The new bill makes it easier for workers to lodge pay equity claims because it sets clear guidelines for comparing pay between women in female-dominated professions and men with “substantially similar skills, responsibility, and service” in male-dominated occupations.
New Zealand has a long history of prioritizing equality between men and women. The nation was the first globally to give women the right to vote in 1893 and the second country in the world to grant domestic abuse victims paid leave. Ardern was also the first world leader to ever go on maternity leave after the birth of her daughter, Neve, in 2018.