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Closing the Gender Pay Gap Bill

Saturday, 30th March 2023, was a historic day for gender equality in Australia!

In short, the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023, bill was passed to close the gender pay gap in the Australian workforce. 

So, what?

If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve been paid less than your male counterpart at some point in your life. 

Wait, what? That’s right, historically and even today, women in Australia are being paid less for doing the exact same or similar role to men.

If you’re horrified by this just as much as I am and believe that men and women should be paid the same for similar positions, this bill aims to quickly close the gender pay gap. 

Okay, I know you’re probably saying that you don’t have time to read the whole bill, no problem. I’ve simplified the main points of the bill. 

Let’s break it down

Private sector employers and Commonwealth public sector organisations with 100 or more employees must report to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

  • From late 2023, employees must send their WGEA Executive Summary and Industry Benchmark reports to their board
  • From early 2024, WGEA will publish private sector employer gender pay gaps
  • From April 2024, must provide additional information on employees to WGEA
  • From April 2024, sexual harassment, harassment on the grounds of sex or discrimination will have mandatory reporting 
  • From April 2024, companies with 500+ employees must have a policy or strategy for all of the six Gender Equality Indicators 
  • From last 2024/ early 2025, WGEA will publish Commonwealth public sector gender pay gap

The bill was created after The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 was reviewed, which requires non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to submit a report to the WGEA. From there, WGEA compiles the data and publishes a yearly report based on its findings.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap in Australia the pay difference between men and women is still higher (13.3%) than the OECD average (13%). Horrifying, isn’t it? 

For more information about how the gender pay gap is calculated, read my previous blog post, The Gender Pay Gap, which explains how the gender pay gap is calculated and is globally recognised. 

Similar legislation has recently been passed in the European Union and the UK focusing on pay transparency and pay discrimination. In Japan, companies with more than 301 employees have new wage reporting standards and in the US, the Paycheck Fairness Act aims to tackle wage discrimination. As of April 2023, it is sitting in Congress and hasn’t been passed. Come on USA, you can do it!

A Long Way To Go

The 2022 World Economic Forum reported that it would take another 132 years to close the global gender pay gap. Hopefully, it’s quicker than that! It’s a bit more positive in Australia, where economists are predicting it will take 26 years to close the gender pay gap (which is about the time I’ll be retiring!). Still, that’s not good enough. 

According to the International Labour Organization, globally women are paid about 20% less than men. Australia ranks 43rd on the Global Gender Gap Index (Pg 10) where Iceland is number 1, New Zealand is number 4, the US is 27, and Afghanistan ranks last at 146. Interesting, the top two countries are run by women!

While the numbers are disheartening, the passing of Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 is a step in the right direction in closing the gender pay gap. Which I hope is less than 26 years!

Hopefully, the bill encourages more open discussion around wage transparency, especially since pay secrecy is now banned and forces companies to re-evaluate how they manage gender equality.


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