Equal pay day chance to address the gap

More than two months since the end of the financial year Australian women have just caught up to men when it comes to their annual pay.

Businesses are being encouraged to step up and address inequalities ahead of changes to laws which will make employer-level gender pay gaps public.

Known as equal pay day, Monday marks the 60 extra days women need to work, on average, to earn the equivalent salary to men.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the government would change fair work laws to include gender pay equity requirements by the end of the year.

The changes are expected to ensure gender pay gap transparency and encourage equity reform within organisations.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics last week released data showing the gender pay gap – the difference in full-time earnings between men and women – had grown to 14.1 per cent, up 1.9 per cent from the previous year.

On average, women working full-time earned $1609 a week while men earned $1872.90 in the last financial year.

Mr Albanese said a metric of his government’s success on gender equality would be if the wages gap was reduced.

“A success would be a closing of the gap rather than expanding, the recent figures were going the wrong way (and) we want it to go the right way,” Mr Albanese told the National Press Club on Monday.

To mark equal pay day, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has renewed calls for employers to take action to address the gap.

Suggestions for employers include conducting a pay gap audit, setting targets to promote gender equality at all levels of an organisation, normalising flexible work and introducing a robust gender neutral paid parental leave policy.

Employers are already reaping the benefits from incorporating gender equality policies in their businesses, reporting employee recruitment and retention, productivity and company profits, agency director Mary Wooldridge said.

“While the gender pay gap persists, women’s skills, capabilities and potential are not being fully realised or valued,” she said.

Employer-level gender pay gaps will soon be published by the agency after the federal government committed to implementing the transparency measure.

Taking action on gender equality is not only the right thing to do, it is also a sensible business decision, Ms Wooldridge said.

“Make sure your organisation is prepared for gender pay gap transparency, to be able to articulate what analysis has been done and the steps being taken to close it,” she said.

“We encourage all employers to take gender equality seriously, incorporate it into their business strategy and to take action to address it.”

While women are earning less, they’re spending the same as men on essentials, an effect the agency has labelled “sheflation”.

“A high inflation rate of 6.1 per cent is greatly increasing the cost of living, making daily essentials like fruit and vegetables, fuel, electricity and rent more and more expensive,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“The gender pay gap means many women now find it even harder to make ends meet.”


Maeve Bannister
(Australian Associated Press)


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