The New Zealand government has made it easier for workers in female-dominated professions to achieve pay equity, with the passing of a new law overnight Thursday.
The law was "one of the biggest gains for gender equity" in the workplace in almost 50 years, Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said in a statement on Friday.
Employers already had a duty not to pay people differently on the basis of sex, but the law helps parties come to an agreement about what equitable remuneration would be, and makes court action a "last resort rather than a first step," she said.
"No one should be paid less just because they work in a female-dominated occupation."
The law was long overdue but was just the start, minister for workplace relations Andrew Little said.
"It is just one step in a long journey towards gender equality, the work does not end here," he said.
Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said the law would provide help to fix the "systemic problem" of paying women less because of their gender.
"The next challenge is to ensure that the Act is used to its full potential, ensuring that pay discrimination based on gender is something for the history books," Wagstaff said.
The law was triggered by a claim from care worker Kristine Bartlett, who went to court in 2014 arguing that aged-care workers were underpaid because they were mostly women.
Bartlett won the case, with the government giving pay equity to about 55,000 care and support workers.
Source: The Star