Teacher aide pay equity claim background

Learn about the teacher aide pay equity settlement. It is a significant milestone in both the Government’s and the Ministry’s commitment to addressing pay equity issues in the education sector.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Teacher aides
  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • School Administrators

The following process resulted in the teacher aide pay equity claim settlement outcomes.

How did we get here?

In June 2016 NZEI Te Riu Roa (the union who represents teacher aides), notified the Secretary of Education that because teacher aides are mostly women, their work is likely to be undervalued and underpaid.

The union claimed that this undervaluation meant that their pay rates were unlikely to represent the true value of their work because they were affected by gender-based discrimination, contrary to the Equal Pay Act (1972).

This was the same part of the Equal Pay Act that Kristine Bartlett and her union used to achieve pay equity for care and support workers in 2015.

The Secretary of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa entered into a joint process with the support of the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) to examine the pay equity claim in July 2017. NZSTA represent Boards of Trustees who employ teacher aides.

Everyone agreed to work in partnership to resolve the detailed and complex claim, following the Pay Equity Principles and the Equal Pay Amendment Bill to ensure the correct processes were used.

During the investigation stage 842 schools were contacted, 800 job descriptions assessed, and 365 in-depth interviews were conducted. The process was thorough and collaborative to achieve an outcome that is robust, fair and equitable for the 22,000 teacher aides who work in schools and kura across the country.

Examining the claim: a joint process

From mid-2017 to mid-2019, the Ministry, NZEI Te Riu Roa and NZSTA worked together to research the teacher aide occupation and the work of four male-dominated comparator occupations . One of the comparators – caretakers – did not end up being used as a comparator for establishing the pay equity rate.

Together we:

  • interviewed 92 teacher aides, 82 supervisors, 87 principals and 56 employees and 48 supervisors from the comparator organisations.
  • researched and analysed data on the historical movement of women into the paid workforce and the history of the teacher aide occupation.
  • collated and analysed data from job descriptions, collective agreements and other relevant documents.

We had to conduct a gender-neutral assessment of the skills, responsibilities, conditions and demands of the work of teacher aides and the comparator occupations in order to answer two key questions:

  • Are teacher aides’ remuneration rates affected by gender-based undervaluation?
  • If so, what is the extent of the undervaluation and how can it be corrected?

Read the teacher aide pay equity claim report [PDF, 3.8 MB]

The findings

The investigation of the claim found that although the work of comparators required the same or similar level of skills, responsibilities, conditions of work and degrees of effort as teacher aides, the teacher aides were paid less.

The conclusion of the investigation was therefore that teacher aides’ pay suffered from gender-based undervaluation and needed to be corrected.

Agreement on pay equity issues

The new rates will range from $21.20 to $34.68 per hour, and be effective from 12 February 2020. For the majority of teacher aides, this is an increase of 19-30% over the rates paid in 2019.

Teacher aides who perform tiaki duties (formerly ‘dirty work’) on a regular basis, will also receive an extra $2.60 per hour on top of their hourly rate, while those who perform these duties occasionally will see their allowance increased from $3.85 to $4.81 if the work is performed on that day. 

Agreement on matters other than pay rates 

Professional learning and development (PLD) opportunities for teacher aides will be more readily available. The PLD fund agreed as part of the Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement settled at the end of last year, will be boosted by $1.5 million, to $2.29 million.

Teacher aides will have more certainty around the hours they work. Permanently employed teacher aides will only be able to have their hours varied by a maximum of 25% in any twelve month period. Currently under their employment agreement, there is no limit to the amount of hours that could be varied.

Longer term work

The Ministry of Education, NZSTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa recognise that for teacher aides to provide the best support they can for our learners, there are broader workforce matters that need addressing. This longer term work includes:

  • a commitment to reviewing the way schools are funded for teacher aides
  • providing guidance on the use of Fixed-term Agreements to ensure they are being used appropriately
  • establishing a working group to explore career pathways and professional development for teacher aides.

Did you know?

This pay equity settlement follows a recent pay increase for teacher aides as part of their collective agreement bargaining in November last year. Rates of pay increased to $21.15 per hour for staff earning less than this, or by 3% if they were earning more. A further 3% increase follows in November 2020 for all teacher aides.

Further information about the settlement outcomes

Operational guidelines for school

The new pay equity rates

Tiaki allowance

Variation of hours

Professional Learning and Development (PLD)

The Work Matrix

Longer term work

Frequently asked questions for teacher aides

Frequently asked questions for schools

Fact sheets

Quick steps to implementation [PDF, 190 KB] 

Pay equity and the teacher aide claim factsheet [PDF, 400 KB]

New Work Matrix for teacher aides and pay equity rates fact sheet [PDF, 428 KB]

Tiaki allowance fact sheet [PDF, 307 KB]

Variation of hours fact sheet [PDF, 439 KB]

Professional Learning and Development (PLD) fact sheet [PDF, 364 KB]

Longer term work fact sheet  [PDF, 174 KB]

Teacher aide pay equity settlement agreement [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback