Travelling the motu to unpack pay equity needs for the Education workforce

Issue: Volume 101, Number 1

Posted: 2 February 2022
Reference #: 1HASbR

Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga and NZEI Te Riu Roa hit the road to interview therapists, science technicians, librarians and library assistants in schools around the country to understand more about their roles as part of the pay equity claim process.

The work of librarians and library assistants is part of the pay equity claim currently being assessed.

The work of librarians and library assistants is part of the pay equity claim currently being assessed.

Pay equity is about men and women being paid the same for doing jobs that are different but of equal value. This is different from pay parity, which is about people who do the same work being paid the same across different employers.

If an individual or union believes they, or a workforce, has a pay equity issue, they can raise a claim with the employer under the Equal Pay Act 1972.

In late 2020, NZEI Te Riu Roa raised pay equity claims with the Ministry of Education for therapists(external link), science technicians(external link), and librarians and library assistants(external link) – along with other claims(external link).

These three claims were agreed as ‘arguable’ in early 2021, which means that there may be a current or historical undervaluation due to gender-based discrimination including perceptions about the value of ‘women’s work’, but that further investigation is needed.

In late 2021, the Ministry, NZEI, and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) signed a Terms of Reference, which set out how they will work together to investigate each of these three claims – they’re at the same phase in the claims process and progressing alongside one another.

There are three phases to a pay equity claim: raising the claim, assessing the claim, and settling the claim.

The signing of the Terms of References marks the end of the raising phase, which means it now moves into the assessment phase.

The first part of the assessment phase involves conducting interviews with school therapists, science technicians, and librarians to understand more about the skills, responsibilities, demands, and conditions of their roles.

The Ministry and NZEI collaborated on these interviews.

Ellie Good, a lead advisor in the Ministry’s pay equity team, says a lot of preparation went into the interviews before they even began.

“We received information from the Ministry’s data team on schools and individuals to invite to participate in the interview process. This sample was randomly generated but included different categories to represent the different types of areas and schools.

“We spent weeks scheduling NZEI member interviewers, answering questions, and providing information about the process so that people could decide whether participation in the interviews worked for them,” says Ellie.

Interview process

Over the course of six weeks in November and December 2021, pay equity analysts and NZEI member interviewers travelled to schools around the country to conduct in-person interviews. They also held online interviews, where appropriate, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A science technician interviewed said, “I was pleased to be interviewed as part of this process. I had hoped my name would be drawn out of the hat, so to speak, as I felt that I had a lot to share that could help the pay equity claim. The interview process was very pleasant, as the interviewers were most friendly and well organised.”

She was asked what she did in her role on a day-to-day basis and about working conditions and said “the school science technician role has become far more significant in recent years, thanks to the new health and safety laws and hazardous substances regulations.

“The role of school science technician needs to be filled by appropriately qualified people, who are attracted to and will stay in the profession because it is a viable long-term career path – appropriately remunerated and with career development potential.”

Ellie says they met wonderful and dedicated people during the interview process.

“It was fascinating to learn about these roles, both the everyday tasks, and the less visible skills and knowledge that many people use to contribute to the learning opportunities for students. I feel like I’ve learned a whole new vocabulary during the process including titrations, Van der Graaf generators, the Dewey Decimal System and online cataloguing!”

Next steps

There’s still plenty of work to do. The team will tidy up their notes and send them back to the interviewees to make sure it reflects the conversation that was had before they are used to assess the claim.

The next step is for the Ministry and NZEI to analyse the interview data and create a ‘General Areas of Responsibility’ (GAR) document for each claim, which aims to capture all the work the claimants do. These documents will then be sent out to claimants for consultation, and to check they have covered the full range of work.

“The assessment can’t take place without the interviewees’ participation, so we are grateful to everyone who accepted our invitation to participate. It is a privilege to be involved in this work and we are looking forward to seeing these claims continue to progress,” says Ellie. 

Want to learn more about the process and other claims?

NZEI Te Riu Roa will be updating the claimants, members and non-members, directly.


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:21 am, 2 February 2022

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