Teachers pay equity claim

NZEI Te Riu Roa has raised a pay equity claim for early childhood teachers. This is a multi-employer claim that includes 600 employers and will cover more than 600 private and community-based centres or services.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Early learning teachers
  • Early learning employers 


About teachers

The purpose of a teacher is to support young people and children to realise their potential and prepare them for their future. Families and whānau and the wider community trust teachers to guide their children and young people on their learning journey and to keep them safe.

A teacher holds the responsibility for the planning, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of an education programme for individuals and/or groups of students. A teacher may be fulfilling this responsibility through direct support of students’ learning, or they may be supporting others to deliver an education programme.

Under the Education and Training Act 2020, to be appointed to a teaching position, a teacher must be registered and hold a current practising certificate. A teaching position will require the instruction of students and/or professional leadership in or of a registered school, licensed early childhood service or other educational institution.

How did the claim come about?

On 6 November 2020, NZEI Te Riu Roa raised a pay equity claim for teachers on the premise that their work is undervalued because they are currently and historically female dominated.

This is a multi-employer claim that includes over 600 employers and will cover more than 600 private and community-based centres or services.

The claim also covers the work of Early Intervention Teachers and of registered Kindergarten Teachers, so the Secretary for Education is one of the employers. The scope of the teachers claim may include primary and secondary teachers. This is currently being worked through by the Ministry and our union partners.

What’s happening now?

Assessing arguability

We are currently in the arguability stage of the claim. Arguability looks at whether the work is, or was performed predominantly by females, and if the work is currently or has historically been undervalued.

It does not mean the employer agrees that there is a pay equity issue or that there will be a settlement at the end of the process.

The Equal Pay Act outlines a light-touch approach and low threshold for determining arguability. The employers covered by the claim need to reach a joint decision on whether the claim is arguable.

Information sessions

In March 2021, we invited all 600 employers party to the claim to local information sessions throughout the country. In total we ran 22 regional sessions and two virtual sessions. You can view one of the virtual sessions in the video below.

The purpose of the information sessions was so that employers named in the teachers claim can find out more about:

  • what pay equity is (and how it differs from pay parity)
  • what the pay equity claim process involves and what it means for them
  • what they are required to do and by when under the Equal Pay Act
  • what decisions they need to make about how they participate in the claim process
  • why a multi-employer process agreement (MEPA) is needed, and how it could work.

Actions for named employers

There are several actions a named employer needs to take.

  • all employers named in this claim are required to work through the pay equity process as outlined in the Equal Pay Act 1972
  • the first step under the law requires all named employers to enter into a single MEPA. This is an agreement that outlines how all the named employers will work together as they progress through the claim
  • The Ministry of Education, employer associations, and other named employers have prepared a draft MEPA for named employers to review and provide feedback. The draft MEPA was sent to named employers during week beginning 12 July 2021.
  • it is important that named employers review the draft MEPA and seek the advice they need to understand what it will mean for their business.

Opting out of a claim

Named employers can opt out of the multi-employer pay equity claim process at any stage before settlement if they have genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds to do so.

If an employer opts out, they must still progress the claim with the union as a separate claim.

You can read more about the multi-employer process agreement in Employment New Zealand’s Introduction to Pay Equity.(external link)

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