With recent data showing that efforts to achieve pay parity have stalled, the Australian Labor Government has introduced a bill into parliament which will require companies with more than 100 employees to publish gender pay gaps by 2024.
In the 2022 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, Australia ranked 57/146 for ‘Wage Equality for Similar Work’. In a statement from Katy Gallagher, Minister for Women, the government highlighted that women earned 14.1% less per week than men, and it would take 26 years to close the gap at the current rate. She cited the worldwide trend towards transparency as another factor motivating the government to put forward a bill to make individual company gender pay gaps available to the public.
The new bill, titled Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) 2023, was put to parliament on February 8, 2023; it is yet to pass through both houses of parliament. In the first instance, pay data already submitted by companies in their reports to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) will be utilized. This data has been used in the past to construct industry level gender pay gap information. While the bill is yet to be passed, if the reporting requirements follow those which apply to WGEA submissions the requirement will apply to all non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees (not only Australian headquartered companies). This includes:
- Standalone organisations with 100 or more employees
- Corporate structures with 100 or more employees across all entities
Outlook for Employers: The public release of gender pay gap information provides an opportunity to ‘name and shame’ employers who have made little progress towards parity. Additionally, the new bill will legislate that the CEOs of relevant employers provide their governing body (such as their Board) with a copy of the company Executive Summary and Industry Benchmark Report, thereby driving responsibility and accountability for gender parity to the highest levels in the organisation.