Administration pay equity claim

Administrators (and those doing same or similar work) in education settings are currently the subject of a pay equity claim which seeks to ensure that they are receiving equitable remuneration for their work.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • School Administration Support Staff

On 18 June NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry signed the terms of reference for the administration support staff pay equity claim which formally started the investigation to find out if the predominantly female administration support workforce in our schools is undervalued and underpaid. Learn about the administration support staff in schools pay equity claim.

Photo of an administration staff member

What’s happening at the moment?

A lot of complex work goes into the joint pay equity process. Firstly the team made up of Ministry analysts and NZEI Te Riu Roa members interview the claimants (the group of people making the claim). 

Currently they are talking to a number of administration support staff and their direct supervisors (often principals) to find out more about their work. To date, we have completed interviews at 45 schools, with more scheduled for Term 4.

Once they finish with the interviews the teams will look at the data they’ve gathered. They will identify the responsibilities, skills, demands and working conditions of administration support staff with a focus on the skills that are less visible, and not always recognised. These can be so called 'soft skills' like emotional effort, communication and social skills, taking responsibility for the wellbeing of others, cultural knowledge and sensitivity.

Alongside the information gained from the interviews, the analysts research the historical movement of women into the paid workforce and collate and analyse data from job descriptions, collective agreements and other relevant documents.

We will share our findings from the analysis work with the sector, and seek feedback which will inform whether we need to gather more evidence.

We have also started the comparator process, working with NZEI Te Riu Roa to research which potential comparators would be most suitable for the claim.

The five key stages of the pay equity claim process

  1. Raising the claim
    NZEI Te Riu Roa, the union representing administration support staff and kaiārahi i te reo notify the Secretary of Education that, because most people working in these occupations are women, their work is likely to be undervalued and underpaid.
  2. Investigation of claimant role
    Ministry and NZEI Te Riu Roa take a random sample of administration staff from schools throughout New Zealand. They look at job descriptions and talk to school administrators, supervisors and principals to learn more about the work they are doing, including their skills, responsibilities, working conditions and demands.
  3. Investigation of comparator roles
    They research male-dominated occupations where similar skills, responsibilities, working conditions and demands are needed.
  4.  Assessment/analysis of evidence
    They then compare the skills, responsibilities, working conditions and demands of administration support staff and the comparator occupations, and look at how much each group is being paid for their work. Then they decide if the staff in those occupations mostly done by women are paid less than staff in those mostly done by men.
  5. Settlement
    If they find there is no gender-based discrimination the claim is denied. If they find there is gender-based undervaluation the parties will negotiate a settlement with fair remuneration. 

The new Equal Pay Amendment Act

Parliament has passed a new pay equity framework, designed to provide a practical and accessible process to raise and consider claims of systemic sex-based pay undervaluation in pay in female-dominated occupations. The Equal Pay Amendment Act comes into force in November.

Once a claim for an occupation is raised, all people performing the same or similar work as these employees will be covered by the claim, unless they chose to opt out.

The Ministry will be in contact with everyone affected by the current claims to inform them of their rights under the new legislation. If you are a school administrative support staff member or do the same or similar work, please make sure your payroll administrator has your up to date contact details in EdPay, including your email address.

Who are the claimants?

Administration staff are an important part of the education workforce.

Today in New Zealand, there are over 10,000 people each year whose roles fall under the umbrella of administration and clerical staff working in primary, intermediate, area, secondary schools and kura and Te Kura. The roles vary from financial administrators to office management to programme administrators.

About administration staff

The administration staff occupation was introduced in the education sector in the mid-twentieth century. An increase in student numbers across New Zealand between 1950 and 1975 due to a post-war baby boom, immigration and the government’s extension of compulsory school attendance, drove the demand for staffing across the education sector.

Recruitment and retention of teachers was difficult, and placed more pressures on teaching staff. There was also a major reform of the education sector in the mid-twentieth century, shifting the curriculum and teaching practices to be broader and more student-focused.

This new curriculum, combined with the growth of the student population and labour shortage, led to considerable growth in the range and number of support staff in an attempt to lighten the load on the teaching and senior non-teaching staff.

Today in schools, the administration role has expanded as a result of increasingly complex technology and more requirements on schools for things such as reporting and office management.

How did the claim come about

NZEI Te Riu Roa raised a claim with the Secretary for Education on behalf of administration staff, arguing that the work they do has been and continues to be undervalued.

It is thought that the work of administration staff is undervalued due to the fact that they are currently and historically female dominated. It is therefore possible that some aspects of the skills, knowledge and interests required to carry out the work are less visible, and so not always recognised and equitably remunerated.

The claim seeks to uncover these skills, consider the work done alongside demands and working conditions and compare them against male dominated comparators.

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