Pay equity – are we there yet?

May 1, 2021

Ensuring the pay equity process is robust is complex and time-consuming. But the end is in sight.

Work on the district health board/NZNO pay equity claim for our members continues but, at this stage, much of it is behind the scenes. It revolves around proving our case and establishing the evidence that nursing work, compared to male dominated occupations, is, or has been, undervalued.

The initial work assessments we undertook using the pay equity assessment tool did not provide the level of descriptors we needed. They were too broad or did not provide the level of “granularity” / detail that adequately reflected the complexities of nursing work.

A stage-two work assessment was undertaken using the more detailed equitable job evaluation tool (EJE). This work assessment has been underway since February. It is being undertaken by work assessment committee members, many of whom are NZNO members who are doing it on top of their normal work. The statistics (see box) give some idea of the amount of work undertaken. These statistics do not include the time committee members have spent on the quality review panel, which has met weekly.

The work of the work assessment committee

  • 29 roles were assessed against 12 work assessment factors = 348 factors
  • 29 role assessments take 1.5 hours per assessment = 43.5 hours (pre-scoring)
  • 43.5 hours multiplied by 12 committee members = 522 hours (pre-scoring)
  • 18 days at four hours per day = 72 hours (assessment committee work)
  • 72 hours by 12 people = 864 hours of assessment time
  • 522 pre-scoring hours + 864 assessment hours = a total 1386 hours
  • 1386 hours divided among 12 committee members = 115.5 hours per person.

In the stage-two process, the EJE tool was applied to both the claimant (nursing) and the comparator summary role profiles. The work assessment committee comprises representatives of NZNO, the Public Service Association, midwifery union MERAS, (for the midwifery part of the claim) and district health boards (DHBs). The work assessment process was overseen by a facilitator and moderator. Once this work was completed, a quality review was undertaken.

Consistency and fairness

The quality review ensured the EJE tool was applied correctly by the work assessment committee, that the rationale for the scores was supported by the evidence provided and that there was consistency and fairness in the work assessment process. The quality review panel reflected on the score for each role and the scores across all claimant and comparator roles.

At the end of the work assessment process, the quality review panel, facilitator and moderator met with the bipartite coordination group to review the overall assessment outcomes. Where there were undecided scores, this group agreed on the score, according to the evidence.

The next step was for the bipartite coordination group to analyse all the assessed and reviewed role scores for comparability, ie to ensure the roles that were compared were actually comparable, taking into account all the roles. This happened in mid-April. With the exception of one nursing role, more than three male occupation comparators for each nursing role were considered comparable, looking at the scores across factor groups.

The remuneration data of these comparators will now be analysed, based on remuneration reports developed by an independent remuneration consultant. These reports provide the history and context of the remuneration information. That is happening this month. Once it is completed, the parties will develop bargaining strategies for the negotiations on the outcome of the pay equity process.

Throughout the work assessment process, we have had to ensure that, as much as possible, the work assessments were free from bias and that the evidence supported the outcomes across all the factors of the work assessments. The Ministry of Health and other stakeholders will have access to the data collected for their own review.

Male comparator occupations

We have been asked many times what male comparator occupations were used. This information does not belong exclusively to NZNO. The male comparator occupations that agreed to participate did so voluntarily and on the basis of confidentiality regarding financial and other employment information disclosed. Until the point where the male occupations were assessed as being comparable, they were only “potential” comparators. We hope that, once the claim is settled and all the assessment data is stored in the Pay Equity Data Repository, we will be able to release which comparator occupations were finally used in our claim.

All parties to the claim agree this information should be withheld at this stage. It is not a lack of transparency or a secret agenda that prevents this information being shared; it is out of respect for the agreements that were made so we could get the cooperation and information needed from other workers – co-operation and information that these workers provided voluntarily.