NZ News for Early Childhood Education

Wage rates and pay parity

Funded pay increases: Budget 2021

In a nutshell:

Today's pre-Budget announcement for ECE concerns a funding increase of $170 million, only, and over four years. It will affect possibly only one in six ECE teachers and does not deliver pay parity to anyone other than newly qualified teachers without experience and without higher qualifications. 

It foresees a funding rate that recognises the bottom six steps of the Kindergarten Teachers' Collective Agreement but not yet! This “is envisaged” for 2022. 

This funding increase is something. But as the funding is "over four years" it is looking like the government will be reneging on its promise of pay parity in "this term of government". 

 

Pay Parity Promise Chis Hipkins on Twitter

That would be a disappointment and would bring into question if government wishes to implement the Early Learning Action Plan to improve ECE quality in New Zealand.

It keeps the attestation rate in-line with the increase in the KTCA rate in July. 

 

Salary attestation rate change

The salary attestation rate will change on 1 July this year – from $49,862 ($23.97 an hour) to $51,358 ($24.69).  Teacher-led centres claiming funding for employing qualified and certificated teaching must pay all their qualified and certificated teaching staff at least $24.69 an hour from 1 July 2021. 

This increase in the salary attestation amount was expected and is not really news, because in last year’s Budget the government set the salary attestation rate in line with the Kindergarten Teachers’ Collective Agreement, and salary rates for teachers on the KTCA will be going up on 12 July.  It is expected that the Ministry of Education will release a new funding table showing what the increased rates from 1 July 2021 will be.

 

Re-introduction of salary steps for teachers with higher qualifications and experience

It is hoped that, from 1 January 2022, teacher-led centres that agree to pay all their qualified and certificated teachers at least in line with the first six steps of the collective agreement for kindergarten teachers, head teachers and senior teachers (KTCA, 2019 – 2022), will be paid higher funding rates. The Minister says in a press release that “Another set of higher funding rates will be made available from 1 January 2022 if services agree to pay teachers in line with the first six pay steps of the same collective agreement kindergarten teachers belong to."  However, the MoE says that “it is envisaged”.  

It is not yet clear if the funding rates for non-kindergarten centres will be at identical levels to kindergarten association funding rates or lower (kindergarten associations are funded to meet the salary costs of staff across all KTCA salary steps).

To see salary rates for first 6 steps for teachers in funded kindergartens from 12 July 2021 go here:  Pay rates 

To see higher funding rates for kindergartens from 1 July go here: Funding rate information and comparisons for different service types

 

REACTION

The message has got through but there is still a long way to go 

The good news
Salary attestation, as ChildForum has pointed out and strongly argued, is the tool already available and used to ensure accountability enabling pay parity to be delivered (see the history and advocacy here:  https://www.childforum.com/pay-parity.html).    It is pleasing to see that the Ministry of Education and the Minister have shown with today’s announcement they agree.

529 ECE services a year ago signed an agreement in principle to pay all their teachers at the rates specified in the KTCA (2019 – 2022) in return for funding do this and to sign an attestation that they were paying at those rates.  Find the names of services supporting pay parity here 

Not Fair
The government is not yet backing teachers in all licensed publicly-funded ECE services for wage increases and pay parity. 

Yet home-based service providers have also indicated their agreement to pay their staff at KTCA rates. 

Qualified and certificated teaching staff are also working in Playcentre and other services not covered by the pre-Budget 2021 announcement.

 

PRE-BUDGET SURVEY OF ECE SECTOR CONFIDENCE

An online survey of 1,000 ECE people was conducted approximately 3 – 4 weeks before Government was due to release Budget 2021.

Respondents were asked to rate government performance in implementing some key policy commitments. One of the policy commitments respondents were asked to rate was lifting teacher pay.

The government received an average rating of 1.4 out of 5 for its performance to date on lifting teaching pay (Scale: “1” unsatisfactory to 5 “outstanding”). Sixty-nine percent of respondents rated the government’s performance as “unsatisfactory” and 23 percent as “minimally unsatisfactory”. 

Stories that respondents shared in their comments about the impact of low wages on themselves, or on others, were sad. Examples of some stories were:

I'm losing being a teacher. Pay check to pay check and almost went well into the negatives over covid. This is awful to treat a dedicated qualified and registered ECE teacher this way. There are people at Countdown and the Warehouse not even in managerial type positions on more per hour than me. Hence in the coming months I will be leaving my passion for a menial job just to survive. The government have broken my heart. 

As a manager I spend every roster trying to make sure that each person has the hours they need to barely survive. I have two teachers who have come from domestically violent homes, 4 single mums, and the living costs are just going crazy. The little percentages here and there are a joke. 

I would not be able to rent a house if I wasn’t married. Pay is disgusting. 

Cynicism was expressed concerning last year's government Budget announcements on lifting teacher pay reported in the media. For example, one respondent commented: “The 2.3% funding increase that was meant to be spent on pay, we never received it in pay”. Some respondents made similar points to the respondent who said: “It doesn’t matter how much funding they hand out if its not mandatory for owners to pay a higher rate”.  Another respondent commented: “The last minor increase was hardly enough to cover additional rising costs, let along significantly improving pay - especially when you have an experienced team with lower ratios than what is funded for - could only do a small increase - would have loved to do more.”

Last year's Budget provided for an increase in the minimum salary attestation rate for teachers working in non-kindergarten teacher-led centres.  About this, respondents were pleased but noted it had limited benefit over the past year. In the words of a respondent: “Good the base salary starting rate has lifted it might attract new teachers although it's still only just above living wage and the minimum adult wage, and really for all that training and cost…”.  Added to that point is the lack of difference it made for teaching staff who had been in the sector for more than a year or two.  For example, one respondent said “I have been working from 2007 and a new teacher and me are getting paid same? How is this fair?

 

Confidence in the Minister to deliver pay parity

Respondents were asked “Are you confident Minister Chris Hipkins will make sure that ECE teachers have pay parity with school teachers by the time of the next election in 2023?”

Pay Parity Promise Chis Hipkins on Twitter

A strong lack of confidence in the minister to deliver pay parity was expressed. The majority, 64 percent, answered they were not confident that the Ministry would deliver pay parity by the end of this term in government. A further 17 percent thought that while the Minister would make progress, he would not achieve it.  Only 4 percent of respondents were confident that pay parity would be delivered and 15 percent could not say/ did not know.

 

Further results from the pre-budget ECE sector confidence survey will be released next week. 

Contact us if you are interested in a copy of the full results from the ECE Sector Confidence Survey. 

 

 

Video of speeches on ECE teacher pay and the effects on children of high staff turnover

The videos provided for your watching below are: 

  1. An interview with Irish expert Dr Mary Moloney
  2. Part 1 of the national meeting on ECE Teacher in Wellington, July 2019
  3. Part 2 of the national meeting

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers - what you really need to know about your choices for Equal Pay Claims

equal pay for all early childhood teachers with school teachersAll ECE services and every qualified and certificated teacher employed by an ECE service are affected by the Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020 (the Act).

If you don't know what this is about and would like background information, first have a quick read of this article: Early Childhood Teachers to Use New Law to Get Pay Parity

Note the following

  • 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 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.

 

1. 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, click or tap here to 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.

 

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

 

Service Providers - what you really need to know about equal pay claims

management meetingAll ECE services employing qualified and certificated teachers are affected by the Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020 (the Act) that has now come into force.

As a service provider/employer you cannot choose to ignore pay claims brought under the Act.  The Act describes the actions that you must take when you receive a claim. 

As a good employer what you can do is to ensure that your employees are properly informed about the choices before them. (These are outlined in an article for teachers which you can find here)

Amongst other things, the Act requires you to decide if you think that the claim is ‘arguable’ or not.  The Act’s test for arguability is quite simple. 

If you answer Yes to the following two questions, then the claim is ‘arguable’:

  • Are 60% or more of the certificated teaching staff you employ female?
  • Is their work currently undervalued?

The ECE workforce is clearly predominantly female. 

Agreeing that the claim is ‘arguable’ does not mean that you agree with it.  Agreeing that the claim is arguable does not commit you to any changes in staff pay.

NZEI’s claim

  • NZEI’s claim includes ‘kindergarten’ teachers who are covered by the KTCA, which was re-negotiated without any reference to a pay disparity based on gender, so presumably NZEI has new information which it would need to share with you for you to decide if those already covered by the KTCA are undervalued.
  • 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 funding for pay parity for teachers in non-kindergarten ECE services.

Individual claim put forward on behalf of teachers by Mr Haynes

  • The individual claim covers teachers paid below KTCA rates.
  • The Minister of Education has stated that non- ‘kindergarten’ ECE teachers are currently underpaid. His public statements support the ‘arguability’ of the individual claim.
  • The claim will not be settled if it jeopardises the financial operations of your service. Therefore, many employers who know the advantages of having staff who are paid adequately for their professional qualifications and experience, are supporting their teachers to submit a form for an individual claim (go to the form here:  https://www.childforum.com/pay-parity.html )
  • It means that the Government (via the Ministry of Education) will be obligated to ensure funding is at a level that services can meet the wage settlement.

The Early Childhood Council business lobbyist position

  • The ECC has not been successful in calling for the claims to be withdrawn. Most service providers know better.  The ECC should not now be discouraging or warning its members off from supporting teachers who are putting forward individual claims. This would be very poor behaviour. 
  • It is understood that the ECC is now advising its members that it intends to engage some expensive lawyers to act for their centres. That may not be a wise use of their funds, but that is their choice. 
  • More problematic is ECC's stated intention to extend the time limit for deciding if a pay claim is 'arguable'.  This would seem to fly in the face of the Act, which requires employers to take a "light touch approach" (s13Q(2)) and to decide "as soon as reasonably practicable" (s13Q(1)) when making the decision about 'arguability'.  Also, an extension needs "reasonable grounds" (s13R(1)). 
  • It is unclear what reasonable grounds could be found for a service provider to delay deciding if their teachers are predominantly female or not, or what grounds there might be to think that the Minister of Education is wrong when he says that non-‘kindergarten’ teachers are underpaid.
  • The ECC seeking to delay the process at this stage only works to the detriment of your teachers, and therefore your service and its reputation, as it delays whatever outcome is arrived at with the government.

Note the following

  • 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.
  • 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.  By its very nature an individual claim is raised with that individual's employer and there is no "multiple employer" process.

What you need to do now

 

Early Childhood Teachers to Use New Law to Get Pay Parity

Pay parity is politically still at least years away from being implemented for the teachers of around 153,000 children in publicly-funded early childhood education.  

But the political hand is to be challenged using the Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020. The Act allows individuals to make a claim for equal pay.  It allows those individuals to appoint a representative, and that representative does not have to be a union.

This is significant says David Haynes of the Pay Parity Steering Group, because the vast majority of the more than 17,000 qualified ECE teachers working in services other than kindergartens are not supported by NZEI. 

Labour has promised pay parity in its next term if re-elected and its 2020 election policy outlines a four-year budget for boosting pay.

But David Haynes said that without wishing to pre-judge the election outcome, he did not think that asking unfairly underpaid ECE teachers to wait for three or four more years for pay parity to happen, if it happened, was good enough. 

“The Minister of Education has stated that these teachers are underpaid.  That underpayment should be corrected immediately,” said Mr Haynes. 

Prior to this Amendment Act proof was required that the differential in pay was due to gender. That is no longer the case.  A teacher can now claim to be paid as a teacher, on par with kindergarten and school teachers. 

A new initiative is being launched to inform teachers of this and support them to achieve pay parity. The initiative comes out of the Pay Parity Campaign spearheaded by the ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education (find out more here: https://www.childforum.com/pay-parity.html)  

Mr Haynes will represent teachers (without charge) who ask to be represented by him in putting forward a claim.  

Mr Haynes said that employers have nothing to fear.

“Enough claims with employer support for equal pay should force the Ministry of Education to provide funding for pay parity for all certificated ECE teachers.  The current biased and unfair system discriminates against teachers who are not based in kindergartens,” he said.  

Many services have already signed an undertaking with the ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education that they will pay their teachers at pay parity rates if they are funded at kindergarten funding rates.

Chief executive of ChildForum Dr Sarah Alexander said that early childhood teachers often earn far less than they could elsewhere with their levels of education and skills. 

“It’s children that suffer when their teachers are undervalued to make cost savings.

“Quality teaching is a key lever for improving outcomes for young children, but how can we ensure there is quality teaching and care for children if we can’t attract and retain qualified and skilled teachers due to low pay?  The answer is we can’t.

“Pay parity will give early childhood teachers recognition for their training and skills and help the sector develop and retain highly-skilled staff because the learning and wellbeing of young children matter,” said Dr Alexander. 

Teachers who would like to appoint Mr Haynes as their representative can find information and a link to the sign-up form at the Pay Parity Campaign page at https://www.childforum.com/pay-parity.html 

Under this new Act, the first step for an employer is to determine if the claim is 'arguable', and communications to employers and government would flow from there.

About the new initiative:

  • Pay parity with other teachers is the objective.
  • A claim that seeks a minimum of kindergarten teacher pay rates for all certificated teachers working in ECE has been prepared by David Haynes who will represent individual teachers who wish to be represented by him.
  • Existing education sector collective agreements are 'useful and relevant'. We don't have to go looking for comparable work performed by men when we already have other teachers as a 'useful and relevant' comparison.  Prior to this Amendment Act an equity claim had to prove that the differential in pay was due to gender (try telling 'kindergarten' teachers that they are men!).  That is no longer the case.  A teacher is a teacher is a teacher.
  • The claim includes additional pay elements from the recent Teacher Aides’ settlement. Also, any settlement that results from this claim will be requested to be backdated.
  • NZEI has shown little interest in ECE that is not kindergarten over a long period of time, and only started talking about 'pay parity' once ChildForum's work had persuaded the Minister of Education to start using that term. NZEI ignored an approach from David Haynes suggesting a discussion about pay parity. They tried to close down ChildForum's Pay Parity campaign and instead get the Steering Group to support their unfocused initiatives. They tried to take the more than 15,000 signature strong pay parity petition started by teacher James Lochead-MacMillan, which had been supported by ChildForum, and present it as their own.

Key facts:

  1. The Ministry of Education has the ability to implement pay parity now. It could use the mechanism of salary attestation to ensure teachers are paid at pay parity rates and it can do this as soon as the next funding round.
  2. There are ECE service providers who agree to be accountable for matching wages to pay parity rates to receive funding at the same level as kindergartens.
  3. The effects of an absence of pay parity for many ECE teachers is harmful to the quality of ECE for children and outcomes.
  4. Government has a dominant influence on what teachers are paid in all ECE services, including privately-owned services.
  5. The question to ask is not how much it will cost to fund pay parity, but when will the use of teachers as cheap labour to make cost savings in ECE, end?
  6. The ECE teacher remuneration 2020 survey results show significant pay disparities. The report can be found at https://www.childforum.com/reports/1868-ece-workforce.html 
  7. Continuing to provide funding for ECE teachers to have pay parity only if they are employed by a Kindergarten Association is an illogical and unjust approach. The Kindergarten Regulations 1959 upon which a kindergarten was defined as distinct from other early childhood centres do not exist anymore, all kindergartens now hold all-day licences just as other early childhood centres and teachers are required to hold identical qualifications and meet identical professional requirements. No kindergarten is publicly-owned – all kindergartens operate under the private ownership of community-based associations just as many other early childhood centres do.

 

 

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