The Albanese Government’s 2022 election commitment was to close the gender pay gap. 

The proposed Workplace Gender Equality Amendments (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 (the Bill) is before the Senate and was circulated by the Minister for Women, Senator the Honourable Katy Gallagher.   

Since the start of 2023, the government has legislated Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave, introduced the new Paid Parental Leave Scheme and now the Workplace Gender equality amendments, which seek to close the gender pay gap. Rest assured, there will be more legislative changes to follow. 

The gender pay gap data, as published on Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), notes Australia’s national gender pay gap is currently 14.1%. This was an increase of 0.03% from the previous six months (  This is not just Australia’s problem but a global issue.

As of May 2022, on average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations, women earn $263.90 less than men each week. 

When women make up 50% of the workforce, it is imperative that the gender pay gap is narrowed to help reduce the disparity between men and women, and increase Australia’s productivity. 

Across different states the gender pay gap data shows that Western Australia has the widest gender pay gap of 22.4%, and South Australia has the smallest gender pay gap of 7.4%. This is due to the larger share of the mining and construction industry in WA, which has relatively high earnings and low representation of women. In South Australia and the ACT, the public sector workforce is larger than other states and this has a lower gender pay gap and more balanced gender representation.

Definition of Relevant Employer

Once passed, the Bill will apply to relevant employers.  The Workplace Gender Equality Act is expected to have a new section 4, which will define the criteria of a relevant employer as follows:

  1. A registered higher education institution that is an employer; or
  2. A natural person, or a body or association (whether incorporated or not), being the employer of 100 or more employees in Australia; or
  3. A commonwealth company that is an employer of 100 or more employees in Australia; or
  4. A commonwealth entity that is an employee or more employees in Australia.

The main changes

The Bill will require medium and large businesses, as defined by the Fair Work Act 2009, to prepare a public report, detailing aggregate pay information for each reporting period (the 12-month period from 1 April to 31 March for private companies or entities), for the purpose of showing employer performance and progress in achieving gender equality. This report will subsequently be published, in a push for transparency and an action to close the gender pay gap.

The Bill sets out six gender equality indicators against which employers must report:

  1. gender composition of the workforce;
  2. gender composition of governing bodies;
  3. equal renumeration between women and men;
  4. availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible work arrangements;
  5. consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace; and
  6. sex-based harassment and discrimination.

The Bill aims to amend the existing gender equality indicators to encompass broader definitions, and improve strategies and policies to bridge the gap to strengthen the existing minimum standards.

What will change?

Previously, companies of a certain size reported renumeration data to the WGEA, excluding individual employee renumeration. Currently, public data sets show a breakdown of the gender pay gap according to industry rather than at an individual company level.

If implemented, the changes will mean individual company pay rates will be reported to the WGEA and available for viewing by the public.

What do I need to do now?

You don’t need to do anything yet. The Bill is being debated in the Senate and is yet to pass. However, keeping up to date with any changes to the Bill will ensure you are equipped to implement any future changes within your business.

If you have any questions, give us a call on 02 9021 9699.

This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice.

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