A decision on a landmark pay equality case has been reserved by the Court of Appeal.

The Employment Court last year found in favour of Lower Hutt caregiver Kristine Bartlett, who argued her $14.32 hourly pay rate was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act.

The ruling - which paves the way for pay equality in the female-dominated aged care sector - has been challenged in the Court of Appeal by Ms Bartlett's employer, Terranova Homes.

The two-day hearing finished yesterday with the decision by Justices Mark O'Regan, Lynton Stevens and Christine French reserved.


Terranova's lawyer Harry Waalkens QC told the court the Employment Court had correctly drawn a distinction between equal pay and pay equity, but had erred in its conclusions.

Under the Equal Pay Act, equal pay was about ensuring men and women were paid the same for doing the same work.

By contrast, pay equity was about paying men and women the same amount for different work of equal value.

He said Terranova's 110 employees, of which four were men, were all paid the same. "There's no distinction between them."

Before the hearing started on Monday, Ms Bartlett said she was confident the Employment Court's ruling would be upheld.

"I just hope that the judges see the decision is the righteous one, as it was when we won the first case."

Ms Bartlett did not agree with a claim by the Aged Care Association - which is intervening in the case on behalf of the sector - that care providers could not afford to pay workers better without more Government funding.

"These industries are making money - they are making profit every year. So where's it going? It needs to come to us hard-working carers," she said.

The case came after the Service and Food Workers Union, which brought the case on behalf of Ms Bartlett, and the NZ Nurses Organisation, filed hundreds more Equal Pay Act proceedings against the country's major rest home chains.

Those cases were expected to be heard together after the Terranova appeal had been decided.