Pay Equity

This is an update about the PSA pay equity claims in the Social Services NGO sector, with a call for Expressions of Interest to be part of the PSA’s worker reference groups.

Pay Equity Claims Process

We have raised claims with 5 employers (Barnardos, Stand Tu Maia, Wellington Sexual Abuse Help, Christchurch Methodist Mission and Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services) to pursue equal pay for the female-dominated workforce in social services NGOs.

Since then, we and the 5 employers formed a Joint Working Group and jointly commissioned a report into the workforce to assist in scoping the work and the jobs covered. We are working towards signing a Terms of Reference for the process, and have mapped out a work plan to scope the work, interview workers in the various occupations, assess the work against comparators, agree on equitable pay rates and negotiate the implementation of those rates.


You are Worth 100%, and our campaign will seek to have this message heard by your employers, the funders in the sector, the community and the Government to achieve fair funding for fair pay.

We are working on a number of resources such as infographics to explain the skills of social work in NGOs, and the value of all the work done by the wider workforce. Look out for posters promoting your value in conjunction with International Social Workers’ Day in March, and activities to promote Admin Appreciation Day in April (and if you know of other specific professions with days of recognition coming up, please let us know). We will be in touch again soon with a process map resource.

Reference groups – Call for EOIs

We need reference groups for the pay equity process and the campaign – these will be workers who can talk about their job and the skills involved and the work of the sector entails, with enthusiasm to volunteer to take action, who can be a motivator to get workers together in their region, to lobby MPs, to distribute information, to attend community meetings and many other potential ideas. These are not groups that will attend dry boring meetings and plan for ages, rather, they will come together through virtual channels such as teleconferences, social media, e-mails and which will coordinate local actions in support of the overall national campaign, to make noise and be seen! This group will also be a crucial group that we can check in with along the way and at key decision making points.

If this sounds like you, please let us know what you would bring to a reference group and the campaign, and what kinds of activities you would commit to doing  – we’d love to hear fresh ideas. Please e-mail us with your Expression of Interest (EOI) by Sunday 8 March 2020.

Take Action Now

Everyone – please talk to other workers in social services NGOs, both in your workplace and any others you know of, and ask them to sign up to PSA membership at and to join our campaign at 

by Lucy Sandford-Reed

Firstly, it is appropriate to celebrate the landmark pay equity settlement for Oranga Tamariki social workers. This has been a fantastic achievement for social work and the PSA. The settlement marks the beginning of the pay equity journey for all social workers.

Social work is a very diverse profession with many fields of practice across the spectrum from intensive care and protection work to social / political advocacy. Within organisations social workers are in diverse roles ranging from frontline social workers to chief executives. Role titles are equally varied, ANZASW has 110 role titles on the membership database. What binds the profession together is identification as a social worker.


When a pay equity claim is being developed the focus is on roles that are substantially similar so that they can be assessed as one cohesive group. The Pay Equity Unit, disestablished in 2009, identified five core social work roles at the then CYF back in 2008. The research compiled in 2008 was used as the basis for initiating the 2015 pay equity claim.

Roles included in the scope of the pay equity claim were roles that provided core social work services. Roles such as practice leaders and supervisors are out of scope but will ultimately benefit from the incredible recognition of social work as a skilled profession.

What does this mean?

The settlement for the social workers has set the bench mark for further pay settlements and has put the pressure on the sector to begin to re-consider remuneration rates. It is part of a broader industrial strategy to lift wages and re-establish what skills are valued and how they are acknowledged. While not everything can be corrected at once, this settlement generates incredible profile and leverage for the social work profession as a whole.

The PSA are will use this victory to generate significant upward pressure on terms and conditions of employment for all social work roles, both within Oranga Tamariki and in other sectors.

Oranga Tamariki as a significant funder of community organisations has signalled a willingness to work with the PSA in collaboration with the Peak Bodies to develop a funding model that takes account of the current pay equity settlement and fair funding.

People in Oranga Tamariki that are in roles outside the pay equity scope such as supervisors and practice leaders are still regarded as social workers, and therefore SWRB registration and ANZASW membership continues to be funded. If this is not the case in the first instance, contact the workplace PSA Organiser.

The DHB Allied Health MECA is currently under negotiation. It is anticipated that the MECA will outline a timeframe for achieving pay equity.

The Way Forward

The best way to advance the progress of the pay equity settlement across the social work sector is for social workers to collaborate and stand in solidarity to push the message that the whole social work profession is affected by gender undervaluation.

While much can be done by individuals and groups of individuals in work places being part of a Union such as the PSA gives much greater strength to the collective voice.

What is ANZASW doing?

This settlement is the beginning step that sets the benchmark for recognising our profession. ANZASW is working with the PSA to support the work to extend the benefits of the pay equity settlement to groups on Oranga Tamariki outside the scope of the current settlement and to those working in other settings.

ANZASW, along with the PSA are also involved working with a collective group to develop a campaign to enable the pay equity to transfer to the NGO Sector.

It is acknowledged that social workers outside the scope of the current pay equity settlement, particularly some Oranga Tamariki staff, will be feeling hurt and ‘abandoned’ by being excluded from this settlement.

Social work operates in many fields of practice and at many levels in organisational hierarchies. For pay equity settlements to be achieved in a reasonably timely way it is appropriate to start with smaller groups of substantially similar roles. Once the first settlement is achieved the pathways for other groups and fields of practice are opened up. It may take time for the impact to be felt across the whole profession however the goal of both the PSA and ANZASW is to work to ensure that terms of conditions for all social workers are improved in a timely way.

For both the union, the PSA, ANZASW to have a strong collective voice it is more important than ever that social workers stand behind and support both organisations.

Social Workers ditch NGOs for better pay at Oranga Tamariki (msn money 21 November 2018)

There are concerns vulnerable children may miss out with a huge pay divide within social services.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) claim dozens of staff are leaving to get 50 percent better pay at Oranga Tamariki, under a new pay equity deal.

Social Service Providers Aotearoa national manager Brenda Pilott told Newshub it’s concerning to see so many staff leaving small organisations.

“We had one example of a Māori organisation in the North Island employs 20 people, five of them have left – that’s a quarter of their workforce gone already,” she told Newshub.

In September, Oranga Tamariki social workers won a 30 percent payrise after saying their work had been undervalued for years, as most of them are women.

Ms Pilott believes the situation isn’t helping either side, as Oranga Tamariki may get more workers but lose the help of NGOs like hers.

“It’s not going to be any use to them if those organisations are not going to be able to do the work that they’re being contracted by Oranga Tamariki for,” she said.

Ms Pilott believes the situation is putting families at risk, due to some organisationshaving to worry about whether they can offer certain services due to understaffing.

“The losers in all of this are going to be the people who need services that are simply not there for them if people cannot staff their services or they cannot keep social workers,” she said.

Ms Pilott is urging the Government to boost funding for NGOs working in the sector.

Social Workers aim to use public sector pay rise as leverage  (RNZ 15 November 2018)

Social workers contracted by Oranga Tamariki want to piggyback on a big pay boost going to their counterparts at the state agency.

Oranga Tamariki’s own social workers will next month get a 30 percent pay rise, in a $114 million pay equity deal.

Those who work in the community say if the government doesn’t give them extra money to match those rates, there will be an exodus of experienced social workers.

Family Works services in Christchurch is contracted by Oranga Tamariki to provide services, including mentoring programmes for youth, counselling, parenting interventions and helping families affected by domestic violence.

Its manager Victoria Newcombe said social workers were currently weighing up what a move to Oranga Tamariki would mean for them.

Pay Equity Amendment Bill: More Snakes & Ladders (SCOOP 22 October 2018)

If Kristine Bartlett’s 2013 claim had been taken under this new Bill, she’d still be waiting for pay equity, says the Campaign for Equal Value Equal Pay.

“We were expecting minor changes to update the 1972 Equal Pay Act and include new Principles,” says Prue Hyman for CEVEP. “But this looks more like amendments to National’s legislation last year, which this government threw out. It includes the same ‘snakes and ladders’ processes, so employers could delay facing up to pay equity for years.”

ANZASW Statement on the Oranga Tamariki Pay Equity Agreement (ANZASW 25 September 2018)


ANZASW Statement on the Oranga Tamariki Pay Equity Agreement

Pay Equity Deal for Oranga Tamariki Social Workers (RNZ 25 September 2018)

Oranga Tamariki social workers have reached agreement on a pay equity settlement worth $114.6 million over five years.

Minister for Children Tracey Martin said cabinet had agreed to fund the settlement reached in principle between Oranga Tamariki and the PSA.

The settlement applies to more than 1300 Oranga Tamariki social workers and would see an average lift in their salaries of 30.6 percent over a two year period, she said.

Pay Equity: Oranga Tamariki Social Workers offered 30% pay rise (Newshub 25 September 2018)

Social workers at Oranga Tamariki will get a 30.6 percent pay increase over two years in an equal pay settlement affecting 1300 employees.

Cabinet has agreed to fund the agreement in principal between Oranga Tamariki and the Public Service Association (PSA), the union representing the social workers.

Pay equity near for Oranga Tamariki social workers (Beehive 25 September 2018)

Cabinet has agreed to fund a pay equity settlement for Oranga Tamariki social workers, Minister for Children Tracey Martin announced today.

The Minister said that an agreement in principle has been reached between Oranga Tamariki and the PSA on a settlement worth $114.6m over five years.

“I want to acknowledge the efforts of both the Oranga Tamariki and the PSA, who have worked together in good faith to examine the claim and reach agreement.

$114 million pay equity settlement reached for Oranga Tamariki social workers (NZ Herald 25 September 2018)

The Cabinet has agreed to fund a $114 million pay equity settlement for Oranga Tamariki social workers, Children’s Minister Tracey Martin said.

The settlement has been agreed to in principal between the Public Service Association (PSA) and Oranga Tamariki.

It is worth $114.6m over five years and applies to more than 1300 social workers.

“I want to acknowledge the efforts of both the Oranga Tamariki and the PSA, who have worked together in good faith to examine the claim and reach agreement,” Martin said.

Pay Equity Ratification (Oranga Tamariki 24 October 2018)

A pay equity deal that will deliver significant pay increases to Oranga Tamariki social workers has now been ratified.

The pay equity deal applies to more than 1300 statutory social workers employed by Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children.

A Cabinet decision to provide funding of $114.6m over five years for the settlement was announced in September by Minister for Children, Tracey Martin.

The pay equity settlement will see an average lift in Oranga Tamariki social worker salaries of 30.6% over a two year period.

In recent weeks the deal was jointly p

Pay Equity Deal for Oranga Tamariki Social Workers (Newsie 25 September 2018)

Oranga Tamariki social workers have reached agreement on a pay equity settlement worth $114.6 million over five years.

Minister for Children Tracey Martin says cabinet had agreed to fund the settlement reached in principle between Oranga Tamariki and the PSA.

The settlement applies to more than 1300 Oranga Tamariki social workers and would see an average lift in their salaries of 30.6 percent over a two year period, she says.

The PSA said it was a historic milestone.

Pay Equity for Vocational & Disability Care & Support Workers

Care & Support Workers Pay Equity Settlement (Ministry of Health 18 April 2017)

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced a historic $2 billion pay equity settlement for care and support workers in New Zealand’s aged and disability residential care and home and community support services.

Government announces historic pay equity deal for care workers (NZ Herald 18 April 2017)

Care workers in women-dominated industries will get pay rises worth up to a $5000 a year after a historic settlement with the Government.

In all, the package will cost more than $2 billion and could require a lift in ACC levies or higher fees for aged care residents.

It will cover 55,000 care workers, mostly women, in the aged residential care, home support and disability service sectors.

The settlement comes after a pay equity claim brought by E Tu (previously the Service and Food Workers Union) on behalf of care worker Kristine Bartlett against her employer TerraNova.

Vocational & Disability Support Workers at MSD & Oranga Tamariki part of historic Pay Equity Agreement (PSA 11 July 2017)

The Public Service Association and E tū are pleased to confirm that almost 1700 vocational and disability support workers funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki will be included in the historic Equal Pay settlement for care and support workers that took effect on 1 July.

Unions Ratify Landmark Pay Equity Agreement (Oranga Tamariki 20 July 2017)

Union members have now ratified a landmark agreement that will deliver significant pay increases and more training for about 1678 vocational and disability care and support workers.

It affects contracts for around 300 services accessed by about 24,500 people and children with disabilities, at a projected cost of $55.8 million over five years.

Vocational and disability care and support workers have faced very similar pay equity issues to care and support workers in the health and rehabilitation sector. This latest settlement addresses historic pay equity disparities in line with the April 2017 TerraNova agreement.

Pay Equity Deal for Oranga Tamariki Social Workers


Gender Pay Equity

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

On 19 September 2018, the Equal Pay Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament. This Bill introduces a simple and accessible process to address systemic sex-based pay discrimination across female-dominated industries.

It will allow workers to make a pay equity claim within New Zealand’s existing bargaining framework. By making court action a last resort, the proposed approach will lower the bar for workers initiating a pay equity claim, and utilise a collaborative process more familiar to unions and businesses.

Under the Bill, employers, workers and unions will negotiate in good faith, with access to mediation and resolution services available if they are unable to agree.

Payment & Employment Equity: An employee’s pay, conditions, experiences in the workplace and access to jobs at all levels of their workplace should not be affected by their gender.

Gender Pay Gap: Employment equity is about fairness at work. It means people have the same opportunities to participate fully in employment regardless of their gender.

Ministry of Health


Pay Equity Settlement – Information for Employees

Employees began receiving their new wage rates from 1 July 2017.  Generally, all other conditions of employment remained the same. However, service and qualification allowances were extinguished because they were replaced by the new qualifications-based pay structure. Weekend and penal rates remain but those that are calculated as a percentage of base pay are now converted to allowances.

All employees covered by the settlement in the aged and disability residential care and home and community support sectors receive the new wage rates regardless of whether or not they belong to a union.

State Services Commission SSC

Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles – Recommendations

In October 2015 the Government established a Joint Working Group to develop and recommend pay equity principles for female-dominated workforces where the work may have been systemically undervalued.

The purpose of the Joint Working Group was set up to recommend principles to Government that provided practical guidance to employers and employees in implementing pay equity.

Terms of Reference


  1. The purpose of the Joint Working Group is to recommend principles to Government that provide practical guidance to employers and employees in implementing pay equity.
  2. This document records the parties’ agreement to the objectives, parameters and scope of the work, and the process the Joint Working Group will use to develop these principles.

Ministry for Women

Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is a high-level indicator of the difference between women and men’s earnings. It compares the median hourly earnings of women and men in full and part-time work.

On 15 August 2018, StatsNZ announced that the gender pay gap was 9.2 percent. The gender pay gap has reduced since 1998 (16.3 percent), but has stalled in the last decade. The table at the bottom of this page shows the levels since 1998.

In March 2017, the Ministry for Women released the research, Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand, which looked at the causes of the gender pay gap in New Zealand.

Gender Pay Equity for Social Workers in Aotearoa New Zealand  (RSW 20 October 2018)

Amy Ross is national organiser for Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest union, the Public Service Association (PSA) Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi. She is also founder and organiser of the Social Work Action Network (SWAN), which is a network within the PSA that aims to unify and advocate for social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In this podcast Amy Ross shares her experience of what she describes as the remarkable strategic victory of bringing about the first step in gender pay equity to social workers in this country. In conversation with Deb Stanfield she celebrates the courage of the original claimants, and the genuine partnership between the union and Oranga Tamariki (Aotearoa New Zealand’s child protection agency). Amy applies a critical lens to this significant historic event for women and for the profession of social work – an event she describes as taking us to a ‘whole new level of discourse.’

Gender pay equity for social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand