Bonuses and benefits to attract and keep ICT staff remain stable in New Zealand, but the gender gap has blown out with male staff getting payments 50 per cent higher than their female colleagues, reports ICT recruitment firm Candle.

Data from Candle NZ MySalaryPortal reveals the average bonus received by males in the profession was $13,176 compared to $8,624 for women -- a $4,552 gap. Similar research in Australia shows the gap was just under half that at $2,845.

Troy Hammond, Candle New Zealand country manager, says the discrepancy reflects the sheer numbers of men in IT which has been a traditional career path, although he believes this will change as the number of women entering the sector is "dramatically increasing".

"The bulk of the IT workforce in New Zealand is male and that's reflected in the bonus payments. But looking at the market now, we're seeing a lot more women going into IT, particularly in sales roles, and having a lot of success," says Hammond.

In the bigger established players, people are tending to go for security with higher salaries than an 'at risk component'. Bonuses are still popular in IT sales and in consulting where there's a sales element to the role.

However bonuses are also "less wanted these days" as people look for a higher salary and work from home or flexi-work options, he says.

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Housing affordability and accessibility in business hubs such as Auckland and increasingly Christchurch are pushing up salary demands and lifestyle related benefits, he says.

"In the bigger established players, people are tending to go for security with higher salaries than an 'at risk component'. Bonuses are still popular in IT sales and in consulting where there's a sales element to the role."

In the start-up community, meanwhile, he says share options are being offered rather than bonuses.

He says one of the biggest bonuses, of $225,000, was paid to a Wellington sales account manager working at a medium-sized IT and Internet company with no direct reports. He has a postgraduate degree and between 11 and 15 years' experience.

The survey, covering more than 5,300 ICT professionals, also reveals over the past year, 27 per cent of practitioners received an average bonus of $12,014, just 3 per cent up on the previous year (2012 -- 2013).

Hammond also cites the changes in the benefits preference for IT professionals, with flexible working hours and company paid training moving upward in the past year.

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In the latest survey, the top benefits are mobile phone or mobile allowance (18.9 per cent), followed by flexible working hours (17 per cent) and healthcare subsidies (13.5 per cent). Company paid training vaulted to fourth place at 13.1 per cent, compared to 1.6 per cent a year ago.

A year ago, the top three benefits were car park (27 per cent), healthcare subsidies (20 per cent) and mobile phone/mobile allowance (16.6 per cent). Flexible working hours applied only to 8 per cent of respondents.

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