The Government will consider a proposal to allow workers to know if they are getting paid less than their colleagues because of their gender, but has concerns about it.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor has proposed a new Pay Equality Bill which would require bosses to let staff know pay rates of colleagues.

Pay equity has been a hot topic with the Green and Labour Parties proposing changes and a row over comments by Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) Northern chief executive Alasdair Thompson that woman got paid less partly because of time they took off because of monthly periods.

His future with the organisation is under discussion.

Prime Minister John Key said today the Government would consider Dr McGregor's proposal.

"The Government will have a look and we will consider that issue," he told Breakfast on TV One.

"What you have to be careful of is unintended consequences and privacy issues. So in a very small workplace, you could see how that create real tension."

There was a variety of reasons people got paid different rates for the same job, for example if a worker was head-hunted from another organisation, he said.

Dr McGregor said the bill would enable workers to establish if they were being paid equally.

"The bill does not propose that I can ask about someone else's pay and be told what everyone else in an organisation is being paid, if it is not relevant to my pay," she said in a statement this morning.

Under the bill, employers would record any pay differences between men and women workers and would not be allowed to withhold the information.

Employees who discovered they were being paid less could then complain to a Labour Department inspector who could take action.

"Greater transparency will help progress equal pay in New Zealand. It does not mean that privacy is threatened," she said.

The bill was part of a range of measures the Human Rights Commission announced.

Dr McGregor said the commission would monitor and report on new equality at work indicators, advocate for its new equality at work framework with unions and community groups, and continue efforts to eliminate discrimination and barriers to work for disadvantaged groups.

The commission had also asked the Government to develop a national youth-to-work strategy, renew efforts to ensure the public sector showed EEO best practice, amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 to include a positive duty to be a "good employer" to the private sector, and improve labour market information at the regional level and labour market information for disabled people.

- NZPA