Teachers' pay equity claim

NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) have both raised a pay equity claim for the work of teachers, including principals. These claims have been consolidated into the Teachers' Pay Equity Claim.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Early intervention teachers; early childhood, kindergarten and primary teachers (including principals)
  • Early childhood employers
  • Primary, area, composite and secondary school teachers (including principals)



How did the claim come about?

On 6 November 2020, the NZEI Te Riu Roa raised a pay equity claim for early intervention teachers; early childhood (who are working for employers which are involved in the claim), kindergarten, primary, area and composite school teachers (including principals). This is a multi-employer claim that includes over 600 employers and will cover more than 600 private and community-based early childhood centres or services.

On 17 December 2020, the PPTA raised a pay equity claim for area, intermediate, composite and secondary school teachers (including principals) in state and state-integrated schools in New Zealand.

The unions’ claims have now been consolidated into the Teachers' Pay Equity Claim.

About teachers and principals

The purpose of a teacher is to support young people and children to realise their potential and prepare them for their future. 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 do some or all of the following work:

  • Face-to-face classroom teaching
  • Online teaching and learning
  • Preparation, including resource development, for both classroom and online teaching
  • Evaluation and assessment (summative and formative)
  • Delivery of NCEA and other qualifications
  • Collaboration with colleagues to deliver the curriculum
  • Professional mentoring of student and beginning teachers
  • Reporting on the progress of individual students
  • Counselling and pastoral care of students
  • Administrative responsibilities in relation to curriculum, pastoral care, or general administration of the school
  • Responsibilities in relation to Kāhui Ako roles, and
  • Responsibility for co-curricular programmes of the school.

The purpose of a school principal is to lead the school and manage day-to-day administration. Since principals are registered teachers they are included in the claim. A principal may do the following work:

  • Curriculum leadership
  • Internal and external moderation of national qualifications
  • People management
  • Pastoral leadership of students, and
  • Conduct of departmental review and reporting obligations, including data collection, evaluation, and reporting of national qualifications.
  • The work of senior leaders within secondary, composite, and intermediate schools also includes responsibilities of:
  • School organisation and management and general administration including teacher relief/organisation
  • Pastoral care and guidance of students
  • Pastoral care and guidance of staff
  • Managing and directing teachers and their professional learning
  • Design and development of learning programme and other school-driven initiatives
  • Externally driven initiatives
  • Provisioning of ICT/technology, and
  • The role of principal’s nominee.
  • Chief executive of the board in relation to the school’s control and management.

What’s happening now?

The employers covered by the claim are currently working together to reach agreement on a Multi-Employer Pay Equity Process Agreement (MEPA). This MEPA will set out how the employer parties will work together during the claim process. A final version of the MEPA will soon be sent to employers for signing.

Arguability looks at whether the work is or was performed predominantly by female employees, and if it is arguable that the work is currently or was historically undervalued. Deciding that a claim is arguable 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 1972 outlines a light-touch approach and low threshold for determining arguability. The deadline for reaching a decision on arguability was extended to 20 July 2021. As the employer parties had not reached agreement on the draft MEPA by this date, the employers were not able to make a joint decision on arguability by the deadline. The employers were therefore deemed to have accepted that the claim is arguable on 21 July 2021.

All employees who perform work that is the same as, or substantially similar to, the work to which the claim relates are automatically covered by the claim. These people are called “affected employees”. Employers were responsible for notifying their affected employees of the claim by 18 August 2021.

All affected employers in schools and the Ministry were notified of the claim by 18 August 2021. Due to the Level 4 and 3 COVID-19 restrictions, a postal mailout for the returned emails happened at Level 2. You can view a copy of this notification letter [DOCX, 154 KB] and factsheet [PDF, 804 KB].

Information for employers

The NZEI Te Riu Roa pay equity claim for early learning, early intervention, kindergarten, and primary school teachers has named 600 private employers and community-based centres or services so the scale and complexity of the claim is quite large. We have been running local and online information sessions throughout the country to inform people of the process. You can view one of the virtual sessions in the video below.

There are several actions a named employer needs to take.

  • all employers validly 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.

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. Any employer that opts out must notify all other parties involved in the claim of their decision to opt out.

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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