Employee rights under the Equal Pay Act

Learn about the coverage of pay equity claims and opting out.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Education sector workforce employees and employers
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • School boards

Changes for employees

The Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020 has introduced changes to the way that pay equity claims are progressed.

Under the new pay equity laws, employees will be automatically covered by a claim if they are doing the same or similar work, even if they are not a union member.

Exceptions to this are if they:

  • have already raised a pay equity claim against their school or the Ministry of Education
  • have accepted the benefit of another pay equity claim
  • have already submitted a complaint about equal pay under the Human Rights Act 1993, or have raised a personal grievance based on equal pay under the Employment Relations Act 2000
  • opt out of the claim by giving written notice.

What it means to be automatically covered

Being automatically covered by a claim means that:

  • your name and contact details will be sent to the union who raised the claim. They will communicate with you about the claim, the content of the settlement and the process for voting on any proposed settlement
  • you will be able to vote on any proposed settlement and keep informed of the process for voting
  • if the claim is settled, the benefits of settlement will automatically apply to you and may result in a change to your terms and conditions of employment. You won’t be able to raise your own pay equity claim.

Description of work covered by a claim

The description of the work covered by each pay equity claim can be found on the pay equity claims in the education sector page. 

Pay equity claims in the education sector

If you haven't received a notice

You should talk to your employing school in the first instance. It may be that the details of your role in payroll are out of date.

If this is the case, the school should update your payroll details. You can then request a notice by emailing payequity.claims@education.govt.nz.

Opting out of a claim

If you choose to opt out you will not:

  • have your name and contact details sent to the union who raised the claim
  • receive information about the claim from the union
  • be able to vote on the details of the settlement.

You will still be:

  • offered the benefits of any settlement
  • able to raise a pay equity claim (if you do not accept the benefits of the settlement).

You don’t have to be a member of the union or pay union membership fees to be covered by the claim or receive the benefits of any settlement.

How to opt out of a claim

You can opt out of a pay equity claim anytime up until the final date of voting on a proposed settlement.

To opt out, you need to click on the 'opt out' button in the email sent to you from the Secretary for Education. You can also mail payequity.claims@education.govt.nz.

If you are a member of the union, you can only opt out if you cancel your membership first. Even if you have opted out of a claim, you can still stay up to date on the progress of a pay equity claim.

What happens when a claim is settled

If a pay equity claim is settled and you are part of the claim or decide to accept the benefit of the claim, the terms of your employment may change and you may have to sign a new employment agreement. You will also not be able to raise a pay equity claim.

Raising an individual pay equity claim

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