Recently, the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 (the Bill) was passed by Parliament to introduce new reporting requirements for employers regarding the gender pay gap. In summary, the gender pay gap shows the difference between the average earnings of women and men. It is not a comparison of like roles but instead is across the workforce as a whole as well as particular industries and occupations.
What are the current gender pay gap reporting obligations?
Currently, private sector employers with 100 or more employees must submit an annual report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) that provides information on the following gender equality indicators:
- the gender composition of workforces;
- the gender composition of governing bodies of employers such as boards;
- the gender pay gap between men and women;
- the availability of flexible working arrangements to support employees with family or carer responsibilities; and
- whether consultation with employees on gender equality in the workplace occurs.
After submitting the annual report, an employer must promptly inform its employees, any members or shareholders, and any union that has members in its workforce, that the report has been lodged.
Employers that do not submit a gender equality report to WGEA within the two-month submission period of 1 April to 31 May each year are identified on WGEA’s website as being non-compliant. In addition to being ‘named and shamed’ in this way, non-compliant employers may be ineligible for contracts under the Commonwealth procurement framework and for Commonwealth grants or other financial assistance.
What are the new reporting obligations?
The key changes that have been introduced by the Bill are as follows:
- From April 2024, employers will be required to provide additional data to WGEA regarding employee age, primary workplace location, and CEO remuneration.
- From 2024, large employers (i.e. those with 500 or more employees) will be required to have policies or strategies in place for each of the gender equality indicators.
- WGEA will publish gender pay gaps for employers in addition to publishing the gender pay gap at a national, industry and occupational level. In particular, employer gender pay gaps will be publicly published by mean, median and employer remuneration quartiles. This is a significant development because to date WGEA has simply disclosed to employers their own gender pay gap data on a confidential basis.
Implications for Employers
Employers with 100 or more employees should ensure they are in a position to comply with their gender pay gap reporting obligations going forward. If employers understand there is a material gender pay gap at their workplace and wish to avoid any negative publicity which may result from that information being publicly released (particularly in comparison to their competitors), they should consider taking suitable measures to effectively reduce that gap. This may include reviewing their existing approach to workplace recruitment, remuneration, discrimination, harassment and flexible working arrangements.
If you have any questions about this article, please get in touch with the author or any member of our Employment, Workplace Relations & Safety team.
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