Therapist 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 Therapist 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 Schools or by the Ministry. 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 Schools 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.

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 and of the Ministry.

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 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 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 research sample of 48 therapists employed by Schools and the Ministry to gain a more thorough understanding of their work.

The interview data gathered has been analysed to develop a standard description of work referred to as the ‘general areas of responsibility’ (GAR). This document attempts to capture the range of work that therapists do.   

We are now seeking feedback on the GAR document to ensure all the tasks and responsibilities of therapists have been captured in our findings. 

It is important that we capture a broad range of responsibilities carried out by this workforce to ensure they are accurately represented in the assessment of this pay equity claim. 

While interviews have been conducted with Speech Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Music Therapists, the claim also includes those who are doing the same or substantially similar work and any therapists with other role titles that could be considered under this scope should be identified and included in the feedback. 

Schools will receive a link via the bulletin to participate in the consultation. If your schools has not received this link, you can email the Ministry Pay Equity Team and we will provide the link. We encourage schools to view the GAR document and provide feedback.

Consultation will be open from 9am Monday 19 September, for a period of four weeks. All feedback must be submitted by 5pm Friday 14 October. 

The Ministry and NZEI Te Riu Roa have commenced work to identify suitable comparator occupations for the Therapist Pay Equity 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.

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