On average, men in Australia earn $1 for every 87 cents earned by women. This adds up to $252.30 less every week, and a whopping $13,119.60 over the course of the year.(1) That’s a dismal figure for 2023!
International Equal Pay Day represents efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value.
The national gender pay gap in Australia is 13%, but this pay disparity is far from just a national problem. Across the globe, the gender pay gap is estimated at around 20%.(3) So, it’s clear there's still work to be done.
In Australia, men and women are legally required to get equal pay for work that is considered "equal" in terms of similarity, equivalence, or value.
This means you can’t pay an employee less compared to another employee of the opposite sex who is doing equal work for you,or your employees could file a claim against you.
So, what can you do to make sure your business embraces equal pay and stays in line with equality laws?
Equal pay and the law
Equal pay legislation is covered under the Workplace Relations Act 1996, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and the Fair Work Act 2009.
But the Australian government continues taking steps to speed up the closing of the gender pay gap…
The recent Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 is part of those efforts. Under this Bill, employers with 100 or more employees will see their equal pay reporting obligations broaden from early 2024.(2)
Already, under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, if your business has over 100 employees you must report annually on how your business fares against six gender equality indicators.(4)
So, how can you make sure you pay your staff equally and fairly?
To reduce your risk of unequal pay, it’s best practice to:
- Have an equal pay policy in place to protect your people and your business.
- Make sure your job descriptions are up-to-date and accurate.
- Check that your job titles are the same, no matter the sex of your employee.
- Provide better training for hiring staff to reduce pay discrimination from the start.
- Establish fair pay scales or pay grades for each of your roles based on the position, level of responsibility, and experience.
- Keep your pay offering equal and at market rate.
- Promote pay transparency and meet your legal reporting obligations to build trust and help close the gender pay gap.
And equal pay isn’t just important for legal reasons…
Paying staff equally in your business can improve your reputation, increase staff motivation and productivity, and form a key part of your social responsibility and culture — which are two very important priorities for job seekers which make your company more attractive.
Remember, ignoring important employee rights like equal pay has risks for your business…
If one of your employees feels they’re not getting equal pay, they may be able to take legal action against you.
They could make a claim for equal pay or for sex discrimination, so it’s best to take action before you find yourself in the worst-case scenario.
Our 24/7 employment relations advice line, BrightAdvice, is the ideal solution to give you peace of mind. You can get quick and reliable advice from our team of experts who are always ready to help you stay on the right side of the law.
Want to speak to one of our friendly advisers to find out how BrightAdvice can protect your business? Book a free demo today.
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Under the Fair Work Act, the Fair Work Commission can make an equal remuneration order, which requires certain employees be given equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value. An application for an equal remuneration order can be made by: an affected employee, a union representing an employee, or the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. The Commission can also make an equal remuneration order on its own initiative.
Workplaces achieve gender pay equity when all employees receive equal pay for work of equal or comparable value. This means: -employees doing the same work (or different work of equal or comparable value) get paid the same amount -pay and conditions are assessed in a non-discriminatory way – valuing skills, responsibilities and working conditions in each job -organisational structures and processes provide all staff equal access to training, promotions, or flexible working arrangements.
The Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 is a rollout of changes to current laws aimed at improving workplace gender equality in Australia. In summary, employers with more than 100 employees will see their reporting obligations broaden with the aim of increasing employer transparency by requiring CEOs to disclose certain information to their boards. It's best to speak with an adviser if you require any advice regarding workplace gender equality updates.