Big pay rise for women: Deal likely to alarm private sector

Posted on June 23, 2019 by Jennifer

About 55,000 low-paid workers, mainly women, are about to get one of the biggest pay rises ever after details of a historic pay equity settlement are revealed today.

The deal will cost the Government over $500 million a year when fully implemented in five years, assuming it is signed off by union members and the Cabinet.

The settlement will mean hefty pay increases from July in three government-funded service sectors that employ mainly women on low rates: aged residential care, home support, and disability services.

The Herald understands that for the primary litigant, rest home caregiver Kristine Bartlett, it will mean an increase from about $16 an hour to about $23 an hour – more than 43 per cent.

The deal allows for annual increases over five years to $27 an hour.

Overall, pay rises will range from $3 an hour to $7, depending on the work and experience.

The statutory minimum wage at present is $15.75 an hour. The new pay rates will not be backdated.

The case is the first legal settlement in New Zealand that recognises that some jobs pay less because they are done mainly by women.

Read more here

Posted under: Articles

The Existential Crisis for SMEs

Posted on June 19, 2019 by Jennifer

In 2017 I saw a number of established small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by a crisis challenging their very existence.  The ability to hire the right staff.  The ability to find and keep good staff has always been a challenge but the skills shortage, now worse than ever, is threatening their survival. 

Although I’d like government to have more relaxed rules for SMEs around hiring overseas people, last years immigration criteria changes have meant the opposite.  So this article firstly defines the problem then provides practicable and affordable solutions.

As an outsourced recruiter I’m the recruitment arm for small and medium enterprises so have a holistic view of how the skills shortage is impacting SMEs.  I see more and more SMEs stymied by not being able to get staff.  The lack of available people combined with SMEs reduced ability to be noticed by potential employees runs a real risk of paralysing some businesses.  Last year I had several business owners tell me that if our team couldn’t find a person with particular skills (skills that weren’t on the skills shortage list) then they would have to shut up shop.  If you’re reading this article you’ve likely experienced the shortage but here’s some firm statistics if you’d like them.

In 2017 the largest increase in job ads was for unskilled and semi-skilled labour (reported in September 2017 by HRD).  Luckily some of these roles such as CNC Operators are now on the skills shortage list.  What catches SMEs out is a massive shortage of sales people, a remaining effect from the GFC.  Many people left this profession and haven’t returned, but this isn’t on the skills shortage list.

The reason the skills shortage is so impactful on SMEs is that they generally aren’t well known to potential employees, in comparison to corporates.  Most SMEs lack employment brand and recruiting expertise.  They also don’t have funds for agencies, therefore many try to DIY. 

The current 4.6% unemployment rate has meant a changed hiring landscape.  Due to skills shortages and low unemployment we have moved from the old fashioned “Advertise and Assess” model of hiring to “Find and Engage” (well-articulated in a recent article by Adele Chua of HRM).  That raises real concerns for SMEs as they do not have the time, resources or experience to hunt people down, approach them and convince them to come aboard. While in the past they’ve been able to get away with DIY due to good ad response, they can now be left high and dry.

So, in a nutshell – the main challenges for SMEs are lack of visibility and lack of budget or resources to improve this. Yes, SMEs should be training current staff and making sure valued staff are on or above current market rates, and have conditions they value.  But if the horse has bolted and you must hire, or you’d like to grow the company, here are some recommendations that may help…


On the up side – 97% of all businesses in NZ have less than 20 staff, and as 28% of our GDP is estimated to be produced by these enterprises, there is no argument that small businesses are critical to NZ’s future.  In Feb 2016 29% of all employees worked for companies with less than 20 staff, so there are a reasonable number of people who prefer to work for smaller businesses. But with Immigration requirements tightening, hiring will get worse before it gets better, so I suggest SMEs engage expertise and help to give themselves the best possible chance of competing for top talent.  Besides my company Talent Seed, there are many outsourced options that are not agencies and don’t come with the corresponding hefty price tag.

Posted under: Articles

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