Spark's move to pay all staff a minimum of $19.20 per hour plus benefits is a step in the right direction to retain IT specialists in Auckland, business leaders say.

The company's new policy - called Spark Pay - means all full-time workers not on a commission are paid a minimum salary of $40,000 a year. Benefits such as flexible hours over summer and the ability to buy company shares with an interest free loan are included in the policy.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said the policy was a reflection of the challenge companies were facing in attracting skilled workers.

"There are [personnel] shortages and firms like Spark are having to do something different to attract talent.


"Young people these days don't have to work in Auckland or in New Zealand, there's a lot of choice, and what's going to make a difference is being able to pay more."

Barnett said in return for attractive packages like Spark is offering, companies would expect "capability and commitment" from the employees.

He expected other companies to quickly follow suit, but warned it could have an inflation effect within the organisation.

"Most companies will look at this and see that if they're going to be in the race for talent they're going to have to come up with a package like [Spark's]."

Vodafone, Spark's biggest competitor in the telco sector, offered staff "both fixed and flexible" benefits including fully subsidised insurance and Vodafone products and services.

Last year the company introduced a new parental leave policy, which includes 6 months' return to work for 30 hours per week, on a 40 hour per week salary.

"We are very proud of the range of benefits we offer our people," a spokeswoman said.

"Annually we benchmark ourselves against the market to ensure we remain competitive both in remuneration and benefits."