Teachers' pay equity claim

Learn more about 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)

What is the teachers' pay equity claim?

The teachers’ pay equity claim is a consolidated claim covering kaiako | teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand who work in:

  • early intervention
  • early childhood (working for employers named in the claim)
  • kindergarten
  • kura, primary, area, composite, intermediate and secondary state and state-integrated schools.

Since tumuaki and principals are registered teachers, they are included in the claim.

This is a complex claim. It is a multi-union and multi-employer claim that names over 500 early childhood education employers who operate private and community-based early childhood education (ECE) centres.

The teachers’ pay equity claim is a result of the consolidation of a claim raised by NZEI Te Riu Roa on 6 November 2020 and a claim raised by the Post Primary Teachers’ Association Te Wehengarua (PPTA) on 17 December 2020.

What is happening now

The work assessment phase of the claim has now begun. This phase allows parties to the claim to understand if there is sex-based undervaluation in pay and conditions of the claimant workforce. It does this by undertaking a gender-neutral assessment of the work of affected employees against the work of comparable male-dominated workforces.

Pay equity interviews

We have been working to identify a random representative sample of ECE centres, kura and schools from around the country from which we will invite affected employees to participate in a pay equity interview.

This sample selects for a range of school and ECE centre demographic factors including roll size, decile, equity index and location. A separate random representative sample of affected early intervention teachers from Te Mahau has also been identified.

These workforce interviews will help paint a picture of the work kaiako | teachers do, including their skills, responsibilities, experience, working conditions and degrees of effort. The interviews will be undertaken by a Ministry analyst working with a union representative.

Participating in interviews

Our Pay Equity team will soon start calling owners and leaders from selected ECE centres, kura and schools to invite them to participate.

They will outline:

  • the interview process
  • what is expected
  • how it contributes to the pay equity investigation.

They will also make it clear that participation is voluntary.

Following this initial call, an interview brief will be sent to confirmed interviewees to inform them of the process and purpose of this mahi and help them to prepare for the interviews.

While these interviews are randomly selected, all affected employees will have the opportunity to provide feedback to the findings at a later date.

Notifying affected employees

Employees working for an employer named in the claim 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".

This claim was deemed to be "arguable" in 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 pay correction at the end of the process. 

Notification letter and fact sheet

A Ministry of Education notification letter and fact sheet about the claim was sent to all affected kura, school and Ministry of Education employees and those employed by Free Kindergarten Associations in August 2021.

Named ECE employers were also provided with a fact sheet about this process by the Ministry. They are obliged by section 13Z (for existing employees) and section 13ZA (for new employees) of the Equal Pay Act to notify their affected employees of the claim.

Until the claim is settled, any new employees who start a role covered by the claim must receive a notification letter to advise them that they are covered.

If you are an ECE employer named in the claim, you can request to be sent a template by emailing teachers.payequity@education.govt.nz.

Timeline of the claim so far

  • 6 November 2020: Claim raised by NZEI Te Riu Roa on behalf of early childhood and primary school teachers.
  • 17 December 2020: Claim raised by the PPTA on behalf of intermediate and secondary school teachers.
  • 21 July 2021: Claim deemed as arguable.
  • November 2021 to February 2022: Multi-employer process agreement (MEPA) agreed and signed.
  • 16 September 2022: Ngā Whenu Raranga (employers' approach) endorsed.
  • In progress: Assessment of early childhood and school teachers' roles.

Information for employers

Over 500 private employers and community-based centres or services have been named in this claim, 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 aspects of the pay equity claim process at any stage before settlement if they have genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds to do so. They must then continue to work with the union on their own to investigate the claim.

They cannot opt out of the claim.

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

Read more about the pay equity claims process:

An introduction to pay equity – Employment NZ [PDF, 430 KB](external link)

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