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 to the Equal Pay Act have introduced several alterations 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, or
  • have accepted the benefit of another pay equity claim, or
  • 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, or
  • opt out of the claim by giving written notice.

What does it mean to be automatically covered by the claim?

Being covered by a claim means that:

  • your name and contact details will be sent to the union who raised the claim, who will communicate with you about the claim, 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.

How do I know if my work is covered by a claim?

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

What if I think my work is covered by a claim, but I haven’t received a notice?

You should talk to your employing school in the first instance, as it may be that your role details in the payroll are out of date. Where this is the case the school should update your payroll details. You can let us know by emailing payequity.claims@education.govt.nz so we can send you a notice.

What does it mean to ‘opt out’?

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:

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

You can opt out of a claim anytime up to the final date of voting on the claim.

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, or email 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 if a pay equity 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.

More information about raising a pay equity claim

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