Therapists pay equity claim

Therapists (and those doing same or substantially similar work) employed by in the Education Service (Schools) or by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) are currently the subject of a pay equity claim which seeks to ensure that they are receiving equitable remuneration for their work. Learn about the Therapists pay equity claim.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Speech Language Therapists (Ministry / School employed)
  • Occupational Therapists (Ministry / School employed)
  • Physiotherapists (Ministry / School employed)
  • Music Therapists (School employed)
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • School boards
  • Ministry People Leaders

About therapists

Therapists within the education sector assess and treat students who have limited ability to carry out everyday activities because of illness, injury, disorders, or circumstances related to physiology. This may include difficulties with speech, language, thought processes or moving their bodies.

Therapists work to understand the impact of the child’s physiological difficulties in the context of their home, school and community. They observe, assess, and work closely with children and young people with special education needs. They work closely with parents and caregivers, teachers and schools, and other specialists to help children and young people participate at school and achieve educationally. therapists identify, set up and provide advice about the support, equipment, and technology a child or young person may need, and support children and young people to develop the skills to manage themselves in their daily lives. 

Therapists subject to the pay equity claim are employed in the Education Service (Schools) or by the Ministry of Education. The claim covers a range of therapist roles, including Speech Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Music Therapists. Data shows that therapist roles employed in the Education Service and by the Ministry are currently and have historically been female dominated.

How did the claim come about?

On 6 November 2020 NZEI Te Riu Roa raised a pay equity claim for therapists and those people doing same or substantially similar work in state and state-integrated schools or employed by the Ministry of Education.

What’s happening now?

Arguability for this claim has been agreed with NZEI Te Riu Roa. A notification letter and factsheet about the claim has been sent to all affected employees of state and state-integrated school boards of trustees and of the Ministry of Education.

Until the claim is settled (if this is the outcome of the investigation), this letter and factsheet will also need to be given to any new employees who start a role covered by the claim, within the first 20 days of employment.

A Terms of Reference was signed in late 2021 that sets out how the Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa will work together to investigate the claim. The signing of the Terms of Reference marked the end of the raising phase of the process, which means we’re now in the assessment phase.

The first part of the assessment phase involved the Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa jointly conducting interviews with a random selection of therapists (the claimants) to gain a more thorough understand of the skills, responsibilities, degrees of effort, and conditions of their work.

So far, we have completed interviews with an initial sample size of 48 therapists employed by schools and the Ministry of Education to gain a more thorough understanding of their work.

The interview data gathered is now being analysed to develop a draft standard description of the work of therapists referred to as the ‘general areas of responsibility’ (GAR). This information will be made available for consultation to ensure that the key responsibilities of the therapist workforce have been captured. This is an opportunity to provide feedback on the claim investigation outside of the interview process and help inform how the claim is progressed. It is important that claimants see their work reflected in the GAR, and if not, this is an opportunity for the parties to identify and fill any gaps. Further information will be provided prior to commencing consultation.

The Ministry and NZEI Te Riua Roa have commenced work to identify suitable comparator occupations for the Therapist claim. Further information will be provided once comparators have been confirmed.


How do I find out more?

This claim is being led by the Ministry of Education Pay Equity team for both school and Ministry employed therapists. The Ministry Pay Equity team can be contacted at for any questions about the claim. Ministry employees can find more information about pay equity on Te Tāhuhu on the Ministry Pay Equity Claims page. You can also find further information in the links below.

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