Gender reporting may address the widening pay gap

The gender pay gap has reached its highest point in thirty years, according to statistics released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Men were found to earn on average $283.20 more a week than women – that’s 18.2 per cent more, according to the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Diversity Council Australia (DCA) CEO Lisa Annese explained that this may in part be attributed to the motherhood penalty, which refers to the negative effect starting a family has on a woman.  

“There are a lot of practical and relatively simple steps employers can take to address the problem and this must be given priority,” Ms Annese stated in a 3 September DCA article. 

The DCA recommends businesses put strategies in place to support parents and ensure they are being treated fairly. Actions that business owners can put in place include flexible work hours, a supportive organisational culture for parents returning to work, reviewing wage setting and pay scales and conducting a pay equity audit. 

The WGEA states that from 1 October 2014, employers with 500 or more staff will be required to have a policy or strategy in place that meets the government’s minimum standards for gender reporting. 

The minimum standard is that these employers address at least one of the following areas: the gender breakdown of staff, equality of pay between genders, flexible and supportive working arrangements and sex-based discrimination and harassment. 

WGEA Director Helen Conway said that transparency is important when it comes to gender reporting and any changes should be based on data to ensure the best outcome for all involved. 

“The Agency is interacting daily with the employers who report to us. This uniquely positions us to identify clearly where improvements may be needed so we look forward to playing a central role in the consultation process,” Ms Conway said.

An employment lawyer can help businesses or employees in Brisbane and Redlands that have an issue concerning pay equity and compliance with Australian workplace laws.