Pay Equity and Funding

April 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a pay equity claim?
A pay equity claim is made by workers or a union under the Equal Pay Amendment Act, which came into force on 6 November 2020. A claim must be for gender-based systemic undervaluation of roles, which has affected the remuneration of people performing those roles. It can’t be about low pay that is not about gender discrimination.

2. How does the pay equity claim process work?
The government has established a highly structured process for assessing pay equity claims, which is overseen by the Public Service Commission. It is a complex process and claims typically take some time to work through – from agreeing there is a case for a claim, to assessing the pay gap against comparators, bargaining and ultimately settlement.
A complicating feature of the current claim is that it is against five community and iwi employers. The government agencies that fund these employers are not in a technical sense party to the claim, but they are an integral part of reaching a settlement.

3. Which social workers have had a pay equity claim already?
In 2018, a pay equity claim was settled for Oranga Tamariki social workers. The settlement established the case for the under-valuation of social workers in what has historically been a female dominated occupation. It was a significant step forward for pay equity for social workers in Aotearoa. However, social workers in the community sector were not included in the settlement.

4. Why did Oranga Tamariki social workers get a pay equity pay rise, but I didn’t?
The initial claim in 2018 was for Oranga Tamariki social workers only. The equal pay legislation and framework unfortunately does not cater for settlements to be automatically extended across a whole workforce. As a result, the PSA raised a claim in August 2019 against five representative community and iwi employers. It is the aim of both the union and the employers that this current claim is extended to all social workers in the community and iwi sector.

5. I am a manager or supervisor – how does this affect me? Will I get a pay equity increase as well?
The parties to the claim are mindful of the problems that arise when pay equity settlements do not encompass others such as supervisors or managers. The current claim includes team leaders who are carrying out social work as part of their role but the outcome of this will be dependent on the bargaining process and funding negotiations with government.

6. Who is covered by the current social worker pay equity claim?
The current claim is for “workers performing social work, however they’re titled and whether registerable or not”. So, the scope is wider than social workers as defined by the Social Workers Registration Act. The bargaining will need to address how social work is defined for the purpose of this claim, and how the related funding will flow in respect of the delivery of services. The employer representatives are working on developing an appropriate scope definition, drawing on knowledge of the sector and existing funding agreements.

7. What outcomes are being sought from the current pay equity claim?
The parties to the claim are seeking pay equity for community and iwi social workers and parity with their Oranga Tamariki counterparts. They are looking for a whole of sector solution – so that any settlement is applied across the wider sector, not only to the five employers in the claim.

8. How big is the pay gap?
The parties to the claim have agreed that Oranga Tamariki is the comparator and an assessment undertaken as part of the claim process has found that Oranga Tamariki and community social workers do comparable work and that there is a pay gap of 34.02% between Oranga Tamariki social workers and community social workers.
This is based on a comparison of hourly rate terms. The average hourly pay rate for community social workers is
$28.51 compared with $43.21 for Oranga Tamariki social workers—a $14.70 per hour difference.

9. Why wasn’t I (or my organisation) covered by the NGO pay equity claim?
The PSA selected five employers as a reasonably representative cross-section of social work roles in the community social services sector. The five organisations cover a diverse range of big to small, iwi/Māori and community, child and whānau wellbeing, and crisis support / counselling services.
The aim is to ensure any settlement for social workers in these five organisations is extended to all social workers. Any other outcome will destabilise the sector and be unfair and inequitable.

10. If the NGO pay equity claim is successful, what does this mean for me?
If the claim is successful, is extended in full to all community social workers, and fully funded by government, the pay equity gap will be closed and all social workers will be equitably paid, irrespective of where they are employed. Getting this result will require a concerted effort by all community social workers and their employers, and the support of social worker professional organisations like ANZASW.

11. What can I do about the current pay equity claim if I work for one of the five NGO employers?
Social workers employed in the five organisations in the claim will have the opportunity to have input to bargaining and to vote on a proposed settlement.

12. What can I do about a pay equity claim if I’m not part of the current claim?
Social workers in other community organisations can support the pay equity claim through joining the PSA and taking part in their campaign in support of this claim. They can also encourage their employer to sign up to be part of collective representation being led by Social Service Providers Aotearoa.

13. How long does it take for a pay equity claim to be completed?
There is no set timeframe. It is a complex and detailed process and there is still a way to go. All parties are mindful of the effect of the pay equity gap on social workers and the organisations they work for and will reach a settlement as quickly as possible.

14. Where can I find more information?
You can find more information about pay equity on each of our websites:
ANZASW – click here
SociaLink – click here
Social Service Providers Association – click here
Public Service Association – click here