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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Overlapping panels in dark blue, light blue and white form a background where text appears. A logo of three triangles above two parallel wavy lines over the words: ‘Ministry Of Education, Te Tāhuhu O Te Mātauranga’. Under this is a logo reading ‘NZEI, TE Riu Roa, New Zealand Educational Institute’. The title appears as blue text on the white panel: ‘Administration Support Staff Pay Equity Claim’. The panels sweep across the screen, leaving a blue background where white text appears: ‘In 2020, we partnered with NZEI Te Riu Roa to investigate the school administration staff pay equity claim.’ Blue panels sweep across the screen revealing a woman with shoulder-length blonde hair and wearing a floral blouse sitting at a long white table in a modern meeting room. She waves to the camera. A glass wall behind her shows a corridor and is decorated with geometric black triangle decals. A small blue text box appears beside the woman. It reads: ‘Hayley Batcheler, Pay Equity Analyst.’
Kia ora. My name is Hayley, and I’m an analyst at the Ministry of Education. It’s my job to find out whether pay equity is an issue for our school administrators.
Blue panels sweep across the screen. On a blue background, white text reads: ‘What is Pay Equity?’ Blue and white panels sweep across the screen. A small blue text box appears next to Hayley as she speaks: ‘In 2020, the Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa settled a historic pay equity claim for 20,000 teacher aides in New Zealand.’
In a nutshell, pay equity is about women and men receiving the same pay for doing jobs that are different but of equal value. While on the surface two jobs may look very different, they actually require the same or similar skills, responsibilities, experience and effort of employees working in the same or similar conditions. Pay equity also recognises that some female-dominated occupations have suffered from gender-based discrimination due to the perceptions and prejudices about the value of ‘women’s work’ − minimising the skills, responsibilities, conditions and effort required to do this work.
Blue and white panels sweep across the screen. A white title appears on a blue background: ‘Key stages of a pay equity claim process.’ Numbered points are listed below.
- Raising the claim
- Investigation of claimant role
- Investigation of comparator roles
- Assessment of evidence
There are several key stages in a pay equity claim: raising the claim, investigating the claimant’s role and then comparator roles, the assessment of evidence, and if this assessment finds there is a gender-based undervaluation, the parties will negotiate a settlement.
The blue and white panels sweep across the screen. White text on a blue background reads: ‘Who are the claimants?’ The blue and white panels sweep across the screen.
In 2018, a pay equity claim was raised by NZEI Te Riu Roa on behalf of school administrators, claiming that the work they do has been, and continues to be, undervalued based on gender. School administrators are a wide group of people including but not limited to: office managers, personal assistants, financial administrators, executive management and coordinators.
The blue background with the title in white text: ‘Key stages of a pay equity claim process’. The previous numbered list follows, but this time they’ve all been faded out except for ‘2. Investigation of claimant role’. Blue and white panels sweep across the screen.
During this investigation stage, we wanted to find out the skills and responsibilities, working conditions and demands school administrators experience in their role. We’ve partnered with NZEI Te Riu Roa and travelled from the North Island to the South Island to visit 58 schools and conduct 63 in-depth interviews with school administrators and their supervisors around the country. We’ve met some interesting and passionate people and heard some incredible stories. Our school administrators are often working behind the scenes, keeping the schools running like clockwork, so our children and young people get the best out of their education.
The blue and white panels sweep across the screen. White text on a blue background reads: ‘The next step’. A title in white text: ‘Key stages of a pay equity claim process’. The numbered list follows, but this time they’ve all been faded out except for ‘3. Investigation of comparator roles’. Blue and white panels sweep across the screen.
The next step in the pay equity process is to interview people working in male-dominated occupations where similar skills, responsibilities, working conditions and demands are required. These are called comparator roles. The information that is collected from these interviews with school administrators and comparators will be analysed and assessed to see if there is a pay equity issue for school administrators.
Blue panels sweep across the screen. On a blue background white text reads: ‘Learn more at education.govt.nz/pay-equity’. The screen fades to black.
We've visited 58 schools and interviewed 63 administration support staff and their supervisors. This stage of the claim process has now been completed.
Following the interviews, we looked at the data we gathered and have identified 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.
We’ve analysed this data to come up with a draft general areas of responsibility (GAR) document that attempts to capture the range of work administration staff do.
During May, we sought feedback from the sector to check whether there are any significant gaps in our findings. It is important to capture the broad range of responsibilities and activities carried out by administration support staff, so they are represented in the assessment of the pay equity claim.
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 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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