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 happened to date?

A Multi-Employer Pay Equity Process Agreement (MEPA) has been signed and this sets out how the employer parties will work together during the claim process.

This claim was deemed to be ‘arguable’ on 21 July 2021. 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. 

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.

What’s happening now?

The employer parties and unions are currently working together to develop the Bargaining Process Agreement which will frame the parties’ working relationship to facilitate effective and efficient assessment and resolution of the pay equity claim.

Teacher pay equity claim process chart

Information for employers

The NZEI Te Riu Roa pay equity claim for early learning, early intervention, kindergarten, and primary school teachers has named 500+ private employers and community-based centres or services so the scale and complexity of the claim is quite large. In 2021, we ran 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.

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 pay equity claims process in Employment New Zealand’s Introduction to Pay Equity.(external link)

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