KiwiSaver 36% gender gap: caregiver cites low pay

Pam King
Pam King

A Southland caregiver says KiwiSaver has not set her up for retirement as research revealed a more than 30% gap between the amount men and women are contributing to it each year.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission said in research it released this week there was a 36% gap in the amount men and women were putting into their KiwiSavers, a Maori or Pacifika person was likely to contribute $1500 less than a European person and less than 10% of employers contributed more than the compulsory 3% to their employees’ KiwiSaver.

Invercargill-based aged-care support worker Pam King said her profession was dominated by women and she could not contribute as much as she wanted to KiwiSaver because of its low wages.

She would have liked to increase her contribution from 3% to 8% but could not afford to.

"I’m still working because I don’t have enough to live on."

She wanted to reduce her working hours after turning 65 but found herself having to pick up evening and weekend shifts to make ends meet, Mrs King said.

It was a real "kick in the guts" because she was helping retired people live comfortably in their homes but could not live comfortable on reduced hours herself.

The research indicated that the 36% gap was primarily caused by the gender pay gap.

Amy Taylor
Amy Taylor
Dunedin woman Amy Taylor said women had to take on the majority of the childcare responsibilities, which meant their careers did not progress like men’s.

"[Women] work fewer hours over extended periods of time. I’m currently working 15 hours, while my husband works 40 hours.

"My husband and I are both equally qualified but he’s the one that’s going to work and earning money."

She said women on maternity leave should receive Community Services Cards.

"While it’s not adding to KiwiSaver, it is still giving them a little bit of freedom."

She said people discriminated against women and they had lower-paying jobs.

Despite having a PhD she worked as an administrator.

Sue Collins
Sue Collins
Dunedin woman Sue Collins said she regretted not putting more in her KiwiSaver earlier in her career.

"I turned 65 and I couldn’t afford to give up work because I had a marriage break-up and basically needed to repurchase my house."

Her company never contributed more than 3% to her KiwiSaver but she did not expect them to go any higher.

She said she was grateful her company agreed to continue contributing 3% to her KiwiSaver after she reached retirement age.

Taieri MP Ingrid Leary said she often came across cases where retired women struggled to find affordable homes.

There was a lot of hidden poverty for retired women and women needed not only to be recruited into jobs but elevated to senior positions, she said.