Administration support staff in schools 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. Learn about the administration support staff in schools pay equity claim

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • School Administration Support Staff
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Boards of Trustees

On 18 June 2020 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. 

Photo of an administration staff member

About administration staff in schools

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.

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 because 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.

What’s happening now?

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).

Watch this short video to find out what the pay equity team have been up to recently.

The teams have visited 58 schools and interviewed 63 administration staff and their supervisors. This stage of the claim process has now been completed.

The next stage involves the teams looking 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

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