Labour is demanding the Government take action over "out-dated and sexist comments" made by the CEO of the Employers and Manufacturers Association.
Alasdair Thompson told Newstalk ZB today that there is a gender pay gap, but people only need "to look at who takes the most sick days", as to the reason for it.
He says women's productivity, in general, is lower than men's and while women might be more productive on an hourly basis, some take sick days when they get their period.
"Once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do. They have children, they have to take time off to go home and take leave," he said.
"I don't like saying this because it sounds like I'm sexist but it's a fact of life."
Labour's Women's Affairs Spokesperson Carol Beaumont said the Government should be demanding an explanation from Thompson.
"I am sure women do take more time off to look after children - they do the lion's share of caring work - but to suggest they deserve to be paid less for doing so, or because they are having 'monthly sick days' is shameful," she said.
Thompson later issued an EMA statement attempting to clarify what he meant.
"We believe in and promote advancement of women in the workplace and in business," he said. "It should not matter if a man or a woman is off work on sick leave more than others if their output is high they should be paid highly.
"And if a person's productivity is more or less than someone else, that will be recognised in their pay.
"It's a pity if saying this is not PC."
He also told ONE News that "many women at some point in their life take more leave. Not just sick leave, they take maternity leave".
"There are other things which I mentioned, which I don't want to mention again, because that's the cause of the problem," he said.
Thompson had said earlier, the statistics about pay inequality don't address the facts.
"The payroll tells the true story, not statistics. It is unfortunate but men and women are different.
"I don't like saying this, this is how contentious this is. Here's a fact of life... look at who takes the most sick leave."
He said as well as monthly sickness, women take time out of their careers to have babies.
"It's not their fault. It may be that they haven't got it sorted out with their partners, where the partners take more responsbility outside work."
He was responding to a bill the Greens want to introduce that would give women access to information about pay rates to test if there's gender-based discrimination.
Thompson says the Greens bill would create yet another compliance burden for employers.
"Requiring employers to record gender on pay records as the Greens Equal Pay Amendment Bill seeks to do would not help address pay issues one iota. It hasn't in the UK where similar law has proved ineffective.
"It would just be another time-consuming compliance requirement for employers."
ONE News contacted the Department of Labour and Statistics New Zealand and was told there is not any research to suggest women take more sick leave.
- with Newstalk ZB
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