Pay equity

What is pay equity?

Pay equity means that people are paid equally for doing work of equal value.

This can be a challenging concept because achieving pay equity means we have to compare the way that we value and pay for work that we perceive to be very different – such as teacher aides and correction officers.

Pay equity recognises that while on the surface two jobs may look very different to each other, they actually require the same or similar skills, responsibilities, experience and effort of employees, working in the same or similar conditions.

It also recognises that in some instances, wages for workers in female dominated occupations have suffered from gender-based discrimination because of perceptions and prejudices about the value of “women’s work”, and a tendency to minimise the skills, responsibilities, conditions and effort required by this work.

Pay equity is an attempt to ensure that the wages paid to workers in female-dominated occupations are free of assumptions and prejudices about the value of that work because it is done mainly by women.

By comparing the work and pay of female-dominated occupations with male-dominated occupations, pay equity ensures that workers in female-dominated occupations receive pay that properly recognises the value of the work that they do.

Is it different to employment equity?

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

What is 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.

Further information about the gender pay gap:

What is a claimant?

A claimant is the person (or group of people) making a claim. They can do this on their own, or the claim can be raised on their behalf by a union.

What is a union?

Unions are membership-based organisations within workplaces that are democratically run by their members. They exist for workers to support each other so that they don’t have to face a problem, or negotiate improvements to their working conditions, on their own.

Union members elect union representatives from workplaces, and make decisions on things like how the union is run, and what to focus on when negotiating with the employer.

Unions use a variety of means to achieve their aims including:

  • industrial action (particularly collective bargaining), recruitment of new members, development of members
  • formal and informal engagement in the workplace between members (often with support from an organiser) and managers at all levels of the workplace
  • campaigning, participation in public submission processes, building alliances with other community and international organisations
  • litigation

Further information about unions:

What is a comparator?

When talking about a pay equity claim, a comparator is a person who is doing work of a similar value, but in a role that is mostly performed by the opposite gender.

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