Government Expectations and pay restraint: Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a pay reduction for senior leaders in Government and the Public Service, Cabinet agreed that visible pay restraint in the public sector is an appropriate response to the COVID-19 context.

Pay restraint is the right thing to do in these unprecedented times when many in the private sector are losing their jobs or facing significant pay reductions. On 28 April 2020 the State Services Commissioner wrote to Public Service chief executives setting out principles and guidance on pay restraint in Public Service. Crown Entity chief executives have been asked to take the same approach. These letters can be viewed below under Related Files.

This is additional guidance for chief executives and supplements the Government Expectations on Employment Relations in the State Sector, which Cabinet agreed in March 2018. The Government Expectations form the basis of the State Services Commission’s advice, approval and reporting regarding employment relations in the State sector.

Negotiation of collective agreements and pay equity claims in the Public Service: The Public Service Commissioner (Commissioner) is responsible for the negotiation of collective agreements in the Public Service.  In practice the powers and functions associated with this are delegated to Public Service chief executives. The Public Service Act 2020 also provides a new role for the Commissioner in relation to pay equity claims in the Public Service, similar to the Commissioner’s role in negotiating collective agreements.

The Commissioner has delegated the functions and powers in respect of both these responsibilities to Public Service chief executives through a single delegation instrument in two parts. 

The collective agreement part is largely unchanged from the current delegation which it replaces.  The conditions of the delegation have been amended to align with the Public Service Act, placing greater emphasis on fostering improved consistency in terms and conditions of employment across the Public Service. The pay equity part delegates the new functions and powers in dealing with pay equity claims. The negotiation of pay equity claims in the Public Service is a powerful tool to give effect to Government policies on achieving pay equity and closing the gender pay gap. 

Further information on pay equity and closing the gender pay gap is available here.

Information on employment legislation: Information on the Employment Relations Act 2000 and related legislation and on minimum employment rights in New Zealand can be accessed through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Employment New Zealand website. The site contains useful guides to key employment processes, including collective and individual bargaining and minimum holiday and other leave entitlements. This site also has a link to the employment law database where copies of decisions of the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court can be accessed.

See for copies of the Employment Relations Act 2000 and all other New Zealand statutes.


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