The Government is considering intervening in a landmark court case that could increase the pay of tens of thousands of women workers.
The case, instigated by the Service and Food Workers Union, challenged the way women were paid in the aged-care sector.
Lower Hutt union member Kristine Bartlett, who works for TerraNova Homes and Care, agreed to front the case.
Last month the Employment Court ruled in her favour, finding women in female-dominated industries can now compare themselves to men in other industries requiring similar skills when pushing for pay equality.
After the decision, employment experts said the determination could have wider implications for any industry where women predominated, notably in health and education.
Yesterday TerraNova said it had filed an application for leave to appeal against the decision, claiming it was bearing the brunt of an industry-wide issue.
Chief executive Terry Bell said that, while he agreed caregivers should be better paid, the decision could cripple an underfunded industry that would fail within the year if instructed to pay more.
But union president John Ryall said that, if TerraNova wanted others to take up the slack, then it should not appeal.
"They could just not appeal, and then it would become a problem for everyone, including the Government. We think the Employment Court decision is very strong."
Labour Minister Simon Bridges said it was not appropriate to comment while the matter was before the courts, but the Crown was considering whether to "intervene in the proceedings".
When asked to clarify this statement, Mr Bridges' press secretary said it was too early to say what action could be taken.
"At what level, at what stage, or if at all, hasn't been decided."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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