Equal pay is defined in the Equal Pay Act 1972 as “a rate of remuneration for work in which rate there is no element of differentiation between male employees and female employees based on the sex of the employees”.
The Court of Appeal in Terranova Homes & Care Ltd v Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Inc  NZCA 516 has confirmed that “equal pay for women, for work predominantly or exclusively performed by women, is to be determined by reference to what men would be paid to do the same work, by removing the skills, responsibilities, conditions and degrees of effort as well as any systemic undervaluation of the work from gender discrimination.”
This means that the Authority or Court is required to have regard to what is paid to males in other industries, not just in the industry or workplace that the female employee challenging her rate of pay, works in (in this case, in the aged care industry). In the present case, what this may mean is that it is not enough for Ms Bartlett’s employer to say that it is complying with the Act by paying its male employees the same as its female employees.
The next stage in this case is for the Employment Court to set principles on how to compare male and female employees in other industries, so that the Court can then assess whether Ms Bartlett and her colleagues have received equal pay.
There is a long way to go in this case, but the outcome of it could effect many industries which have predominantly female or male employees. We will continue to keep you updated as this case progresses.