The introduction of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill to Parliament coincided with Suffrage Day yesterday.

Government Ministers, Eugenie Sage and Iain Lees-Galloway announced the new bill at a Suffrage Day petition re-enactment at Parliament by union women to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Equal pay advocate and New Zealander of the Year, care worker Kristine Bartlett, attended the announcement and described it as “wonderful”.

The Bill preserves the Equal Pay Act 1972 but also includes the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles. It removes the previously proposed hurdles that union E tū says would have made it very difficult for women to take equal pay cases.

E tū’s campaign lead organiser Yvette Taylor welcomes the new legislation.

“We’re pleased that it sets a lower bar for cases to progress, particularly with the parties involved able to set their own comparators.”

However, BusinessNZ said that while it supported the recommendations of the working group, it believed the Government had acted unilaterally and gone beyond the group’s recommendations to allow the Employment Relations Authority and courts to award backpay, which could raise sustainability issues for some businesses. It said back pay should be a matter of negotiation between employers and employees.

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