This week, the Albanese government introduced a Bill that will force companies to publicly disclose the difference between male and female workers’ earnings.
The move sets a precedent for greater pay transparency and sends a powerful message to Australian companies: hiding the pay gap between men and women is no longer acceptable.
And it’s about time. Union members have pushed for these reforms for years, and continue to make workplaces fairer for women.
Currently, the average Australian woman has to work an extra 61 days a year to earn the same pay as the average Australian man. The gender pay gap currently sits at 14.1 per cent, with women on average earning a staggering $263.90 less than men per week.
What exactly is the new Bill all about?
The Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing The Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 has come at a time when progress in reducing Australia’s gender pay gap has fizzled over recent years.
The Bill requires that companies’ gender pay gaps are to be published on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website, for all to see – so be sure to watch that space and check where your employer sits. Reporting will begin in 2024, using data already provided by employers.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce the introduction of the Bill into parliament, stating that “Women should be paid the same as men. It’s as simple as that.”
The gender pay gap around the world
On average, women are paid approximately 20 per cent less than men on a global scale. There are several reasons the gender pay gap exists including:
- Gender discrimination
- Lower wages in female-dominated industries
- Women face barriers to climbing the career ladder and are often overlooked for leadership roles globally
- Many women experience reduced employment opportunities because of their caregiving responsibilities
- The ‘motherhood penalty’ that results in women’s wages dropping to less than half in the five years after childbirth
- The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed career progression for women, affecting income security
- The unequal and gender division of family and domestic responsibilities
The gender pay gap in Australia
It is astounding that in 2023, the gender pay gap still exists in Australia and compared to other countries, we are showing poor results. Projections show that it’s likely to take another 26 years to close the gender pay gap – a disheartening statistic to swallow.
The new Bill, however, is aiming to fast-track the progress and the proposed changes will be a key stepping stone to achieving company transparency and accountability.
For too long, individual companies with significant gender pay gaps have been able to evade scrutiny and avoid having to address problems within their workplaces that have led to women workers being undervalued.
Women continue to earn much less than men and that is why this legislation to provide greater transparency is so important. Fortunately, if you’re a woman in a union, you already face a far narrower gender pay gap than non-members.
How pay transparency helps both workers and employers
Pay transparency is powerful. It provides the knowledge and proof for workers to spot when pay discrimination is occurring.
When you can see that you’re not being paid fairly, having that data freely available means that you and your colleagues can back yourselves when negotiating for pay rises and fair wages.
This Bill also comes off the back of a successful union-led campaign that ended sexist pay secrecy clauses.
Step by step, union members are dismantling the barriers between working women and equal pay.
You and your workmates can make it happen too. The first step in realising your worth at work is joining your union.
Whether it’s ensuring a better pay deal for women, expanding paid parental leave, or introducing paid family and domestic violence leave, workers in unions are creating fairer workplaces for everyone.
New Bill an overdue step forward in closing the gender pay gap