New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations


New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations
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New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations
Volume 44  Number 1

In the latest New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations the following topics are covered. If you wish to read the full articles or download the entire NZJER issue you need to subscribe to the NZJER.

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An empirical examination of the gender pay gap in New Zealand


New Zealand has often been described as a leader in the field of gender equality. Yet, while women have achieved substantial gains in a range of outcomes (education and labour force participation for example), the gender pay gap has changed very little. This study uses confidentialised microdata from Statistics New Zealand to examine the gap in a multitude of ways. We begin by applying the traditional Oaxaca decomposition technique, before accounting for selection, distributional differences and matching. We find that the gap is largely unexplained (83 per cent). Importantly, we correct for selection bias for both men and women – which produces counterbalancing effects such that the net result is broadly similar to that prior to the correction. We also employ propensity score matching, as a further check of robustness of results, and find only minor movements in the unexplained gap. Finally, distributional analysis illustrates evidence in favour of the glass-ceiling hypothesis.

* Director, New Zealand Work Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology.  Corresponding author:
** Research Fellow, University of Waikato
*** Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, University of Waikato

Service Sector Employee Insights into the Future of Work and Technological Disruption



Recently there has been significant attention given to the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on employment. The present study aims to provide employee insights into their perceptions of the future of work, specifically around their job and career.  These insights are important, as the respondents show how they plan to adapt (or more importantly, not plan or not adapt) to new jobs and careers in a rapidly changing world. Based on insights from 60 employees, which were collected online, the key findings suggest that people in the same line of work have varying degrees of knowledge and opinions about automation and how it may impact on their jobs. In addition, many employees are generally optimistic about the future of work and their long-term careers, with them acknowledging potential job changes around automation, but with a strong belief their type of work will remain. These are important findings when we consider how people plan their careers in the face of automation.

* Senior Lecturer, School of Management, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand 
** Professor of Human Resource Management, Department of Management, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand 
*** Senior Lecturer, School of Management, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Psychological autonomy and well-being of employees in low-skilled occupations



Psychological autonomy and the impact it has on employees’ well-being has seldom been examined for those employed in low-skilled occupations. Using self-determination theory (SDT) as the theoretical grounding, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between supervisors’ support for psychological autonomy and employee outcomes such as well-being, stress, and job performance, for those in low-skilled occupations. SDT proposes that the effect of supervisors’ autonomy support is mediated through the satisfaction and frustration of employees’ needs. Survey data were collected from 171 employees at four different organisations in New Zealand. Regression analysis indicated that supervisors’ autonomy support was positively related to the satisfaction of employees’ autonomy, competence and relatedness needs, and negatively related to frustration of employees’ autonomy and relatedness needs. In addition, supervisors’ autonomy support was related to job performance through competence and relatedness satisfaction and to well-being through autonomy satisfaction. Findings highlight the importance of supervisors’ autonomy support for employees’ well-being and job performance, giving organisations ways to improve well-being and job performance.

*PhD candidate, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato.   
** Dr Maree Roche, Senior Lecturer, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato.
*** Dr Anna Sutton, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Waikato.

Another swing of the pendulum: rhetoric and argument around the Employment Relations Amendment Act (2018)



2018’s Employment Relations Amendment Act (ERAA) reversed many of the employment relations (ER) regulatory changes introduced by the preceding National-led administration. It, thus, continued the pattern of yo-yo policy-making that has held in New Zealand since 1991, where significant changes to the ER system have been made with each change of government. Regular pendulum swings in policy settings (where each government begins by reversing policy changes made by the previous administration) generate negative outcomes, including uncertainty and, most likely, a sub-optimal policy equilibrium. In order to understand and (hopefully) move past this impasse, this paper analyses the arguments made for and against this new Act. Texts drawn from parliamentary debates, the Select Committee process, and media coverage are analysed to show the linguistic and rhetorical means used by actors on either side of the debate to make their competing arguments appear legitimate and compelling.

The article notes the moments where the parties to this dispute failed or engage meaningfully with the arguments and evidence presented by the other side, and suggests that the “talking past each other” nature of the debate is related to the institutional forms and structures within which the debate took place. It concludes with suggestions for an institutional setting able to facilitate more constructive dialogue.

* Department of Management, AUT, Auckland. Contact:

Talking, listening and acting: Developing a conceptual framework to explore ‘worker voice’ in decisions affecting health and safety outcomes



The aim of this article is to identify a conceptual framework for exploring how new statutory provisions for worker engagement, participation and representation (EP&R) in workplace health and safety (WHS) are contributing to ‘worker voice’ in the high-risk construction industry. Literature from employment relations, health and safety, human resource management and organisational behaviour debates are reviewed. Drawing on lessons from the past and contemporary perspectives, the favourable conjunctures theory is integrated with deconstructed concepts of ‘employee/worker voice’ and the key factors for effective voice in WHS. The authors conclude that this research has the potential to help clarify ambiguity and misunderstanding of terms that influence the interpretation and enactment of EP&R duties in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). By investigating ‘worker voice’ in WHS through an expanded conceptual framework, this study captures the link between ‘worker voice’ in WHS and the employment relations context. 

* PhD Candidate; Assistant Lecturer, School of Management, Massey University, New Zealand
** Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences; Director of Research of the College of Health, Massey University, New Zealand
*** Associate Professor of Employment Relations; Co-Director of the Occupational Health and Safety Research Centre, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand
**** Associate Professor, Head of School of Management, Massey University, New Zealand

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