Landmark gender pay equality case back before courts

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The issue of pay equity was raised again this week as rest home TerraNova Homes & Care launched an appeal against the employment court decision that, in a preliminary decision, ruled women in female-dominated industries can compare themselves to men in other industries requiring similar skills when pushing for pay equality.

Lower Hutt aged-care worker Kristine Bartlett, supported by the Service and Food Workers Union, took the case up against her employer, TerraNova, stating that she would be paid more than her $14.46 hourly wage if caregivers were mostly male rather than female. In August the employment court ruled in her favour but TerraNova challenged the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

During the two-day hearing this week the court heard from both sides, including several other parties – BusinessNZ, the New Zealand Aged Care Association and Crown Law – who appeared at the hearing as interveners.

According to Sutff, TerraNova's lawyer Harry Waalkens told the Court of Appeal during proceedings that it was unfair to compare two different industries. However, union lawyer Peter Cranney, when asked why the court was being asked to change a piece of legislation that had not been questioned since its inception in 1972, he responded that times had changed and the world's view on the issue had shifted.

The court has reserved its decision, however Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) central region president and caregiver, Marianne Bishop said they remain confident.

“While we are disappointed that the decision has been appealed, our union is confident the Appeal Court will uphold the ruling and when that is done the Service and Food Workers Union and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation can sit down with employers and determine the true value of carers,” she stated.

Related articles:
Landmark gender equality case should not be ignored
Landmark equal pay case continues
Equal pay test case moves forward

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