Pay inequality in rest homes - caregiver

By Kate Shuttleworth

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A woman working as a caregiver at an elderly residential care home says she is being paid less than her male colleagues who carry out the same job.

Kristine Robyn Bartlett works for Terranova Homes and Care Limited as a carer and is paid $14.46 an hour before tax. There are six male caregivers out of 117 caregivers across Terranova's five North Island rest homes.

Ms Bartlett has taken a case to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) which has referred the claim to the Employment Court.

The Employment Court will determine whether Ms Bartlett has been discriminated against on the basis of her gender through the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the good employer obligation imposed by the Employment Relations Act 2000.

The ERA found the matter was of significant public interest, and said important questions of law were likely to arise.

Terranova Homes and Care Limited deny the claims and describe them as "frivolous and vexatious".

Neither Ms Bartlett nor Terranova were able to provide the ERA with evidence to confirm or deny male and female care workers are being paid differently for the same work.

Figures released today in the Household Economic Survey (Income) for the year ended June 2012, revealed 259,000 men had a personal income of $80,000 or more whereas only 92,500 women had a personal income of $80,000 or more.

Labour's women's affairs spokeswoman Sue Moroney said it was a huge discrepancy.

"According to the survey, women outnumber men at every income decile below 47,000 and men outnumber women at every income decile above 47,000.

"Not only are women bearing the brunt of high unemployment but they are being treated as second-class citizens when it comes to the world of paid work."

A campaign has been launched to demand equal pay for women after finding that, on average, men are paid at least 10 per cent more than women.

Pay Equity Challenge Coalition spokeswoman Angela McLeod said figures were showing the gender gap had widened from 12.85 per cent in September last year to 14.178 per cent in September this year.

"Pay equity is a structural problem that requires structural solutions," she said.

The campaign is calling on Parliament to do something about the problem. The "Demand Equal Pay" campaign aims to persuade Government to introduce the Pay Equity Bill, drafted by Dr Judy McGregor into Parliament for its first reading.

Victoria University Law School in Wellington were selling coffee that cost 10 per cent more for men than for women today, in order to highlight a lack of pay equity.

- APNZ

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