Choices for Making Pay Claims Available to Teachers

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Choices for Making Pay Claims.
December 1, 2020.

All ECE services and every qualified and certificated teacher employed by an ECE service are affected by the Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020 (the Act).

The information below on choices for making pay claims is for teachers. Employers and Service Providers please go to a story: What you need to know about the Equal Pay Claim Process.

  • Once a claimant has appointed a representative the Equal Pay Amendment Act (s13C) says that the employer must deal with that representative, and not with the employee, on all matters related to the claim.  Your employer is acting illegally if they bully you, try to make you feel guilty or ask you to withdraw your claim.
  • All employers are bound by the Employment Relations Act. They are bound to act in good faith and to be a good employer.
  • It is illegal for employers to discriminate against claimants in any way.  The Equal Pay Amendment Act states that claimants must not be treated adversely (s15) and it forbids “oppressive means, undue influence, or duress” in negotiating a settlement (s13ZI).
  • Good employers see the value of having well paid staff as this will contribute to the quality of service that they provide.
  • Employers should support this move to secure for them the government funding needed to pay their qualified teaching staff properly
  • Whilst the Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020 contains provisions for “Claims involving multiple employers” these relate to union-raised claims only and not to individual claims.  By its very nature an individual claim is raised with that individual’s employer (by the individual’s representative if the individual appoints one) and there is no “multiple employer” process.

Because the Act has now come into force, you have some choices for making pay claims and decisions to make now and quickly. Here’s the bare bones of what you absolutely need to know. Read this carefully. Consider your choices.

There are only two paths available under the Act: 

  1. your own path, making a claim as an individual, or
  2. the union path, being party to a union claim.

As NZEI has submitted a pay equity claim, ‘doing nothing’ is a choice to be covered by NZEI’s claim.

Your own path: For equal pay as a teacher

An individual claim is being represented by David Haynes (there is no charge for representation). This claim is for certificated teachers working in ECE who are not covered by the Kindergarten Teachers collective agreement (KTCA) and are not NZEI members.

Individual teachers may ask Mr Haynes to represent them.

The individual claim includes detail of what is being claimed and why, and uses specific comparators, which are all collective agreements which will see teachers in ECE getting at least pay parity with school teachers, and these have already been agreed on and signed by the Ministry and NZEI.

Are you getting the pay you deserve as a teacher?

Check out the pay rates for ‘kindergarten’ teachers here.  ‘Kindergartens’ are education and care centres owned by Kindergarten Associations funded for pay parity. See how this compares with your current pay rate

Do you belong to the union?

NZEI has the automatic right to represent its members.  As NZEI has put in a union-raised claim you are unable to put in an individual claim.  You are automatically covered by NZEI’s claim.

Everyone who is not part of the union

We suggest you put forward a claim as an individual (you may choose to have Mr Haynes represent you), unless you are happy to be swept up in NZEI’s claim (see the next section for details about NZEI’s claim).

What you need to do now

If you have not already put in a claim, go to the online form.  Type in your details and complete the form to the form to appoint Mr Haynes to represent you.  It takes only one or two minutes. 

What will your employer think?
All employers are bound by the Employment Relations Act.  They are bound to act in good faith and to be a good employer. 

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against claimants in any way. 

Good employers see the value of having well paid staff as this will contribute to the quality of service that they provide. 

Employers should support this move to secure for them the government funding needed to pay you properly.

Pros and Cons of the Individual Claim Path

  • The claim will not be settled if it jeopardises the financial operations of your service.
  • It means that the Government (via the Ministry of Education) will be obligated to ensure funding is at a level where services can meet the wage settlement.
  • The various collective agreements quoted in the individual claim prepared by Mr Haynes are ‘useful and relevant’ comparators. As these have all been previously agreed by the Ministry of Education, negotiation should be simplified and straightforward.
  • In addition, the claim seeks substantially better terms than those contained just in the KTCA. For example, it includes some elements from the recent teacher aides’ settlement relating to the tiaki allowance, regular hearing tests, generous sick leave and a “sign-up” bonus for those teachers who have bravely put their names forward to make a claim.
  • The Education Minister has said publicly that pay parity as teachers is what the government is working towards. The big question is about timing – the Minster could delay for three years. The individual claim seeks backdating of any pay rise.

The Union Path: For pay equity based on what you might earn if doing similar work in a male dominated occupation

NZEI has put in a claim that covers all teachers in ECE – a claim that includes those who already have pay parity with school teachers (they are covered by the Kindergarten Teachers collective agreement). 

A problem with NZEI’s claim is that it contains little detail.  It does not specify what pay rates are being claimed and does not specify what comparators (comparable jobs/ occupations dominated by men) are being used.  NZEI’s claim includes school teachers as potentially ‘affected employees’, so it has got objectives outside of supporting non-kindergarten ECE teachers to be recognised and paid as teachers.

NZEI members

You are automatically covered by the NZEI’s claim, and so are all non-union teachers employed at your service unless they elect to take an individual claim.

Other union members e.g. TEU and PSA

Check if your union has put forward a claim and what it is – otherwise NZEI may cover you by default.

Not a union member

You will be swept up in NZEI’s claim should NZEI include the name of your workplace or organisation in its claim, unless you have put forward a claim as an individual (you may choose to have Mr Haynes represent you).

Kindergarten Association teachers

The NZEI’s claim is the only choice available to you unless you put forward your own claim as an individual.  The claim being represented by Mr Haynes is not open to those already paid at KTCA rates.  They already have pay parity and are party to collective agreements negotiated in good faith by NZEI without any mention of any gender disparity in pay.

Pros and Cons of the Union Claim Path

  • Your teaching qualification will not be compared with other teachers.
  • NZEI may negotiate for non-union members to be excluded from some benefits offered to NZEI members. We saw this with primary teachers; NZEI members got a bonus not available to non-members.
  • The broad scope of NZEI’s claim, and its lack of detail, will probably mean negotiations will be protracted and take a very long time.
  • NZEI’s claim might see all teachers, including primary and secondary, getting a pay increase (eventually) if successful. But in the meantime, it is likely to end up delaying or preventing any further movement toward pay parity for teachers in non-kindergarten centres.
  • The Education Minister has said publicly that pay parity for ECE teachers is something that the government is working towards. NZEI’s claim appears to go well beyond that scope.

Any questions on your choices for making pay claims? 

Would you like to follow what’s happening? Join the Pay Parity for ECE Teachers Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pay.parity   

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