IEU Speaks on… Gender Pay Gap
No Progress on Gender Pay Gap
Wednesday 28 August 2019 is Gender Pay Day.
This date illustrates the 59 additional days from the end of the previous financial year that women must work to earn the same amount as men earn in twelve months.
Gender Pay Day is an important reminder of the continuing barriers women face in accessing the same opportunities and benefits as men in Australian workplaces.
National Gender Pay Gap. Complacency Remains
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has calculated the national gender pay gap as 14.0% for full-time employees; a difference of $241.50 per week.
The fact that the national Gender Pay Gap has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades is sad indictment on what our Governments and Employers consider as priorities.
What Does It All Mean?
The Gender Pay Gap is a symbol of women’s position in the workforce in comparison to men
It is the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the entire Australian workforce and is the result of different social and economic factors that have a tremendous impact on how women and men live their lives.
It reflects the fact that women’s work is traditionally undervalued, and women are often paid less than men. In fact, average full-time salaries are lower for women than men in every occupation and industry in Australia. As well, women are under-represented in senior executive and management roles and female dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male dominated ones.
Research* shows that the main factors contributing to the gender pay gap are;
- Discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions.
- Women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages.
- Women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work.
- Lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in leadership roles.
- Women’s greater time out of the workplace impacting career progression and opportunities.
It Is Time For Change
Women currently make up 49% of Australian workplaces and more than 70% of education employees, and yet, there are still far too many challenges confronting women in the workplace.
These challenges exist because workplace rules are broken and the Federal Government has failed to address the issues.
The Federal Government has failed to
- To implement a living wage, failed to support people with caring responsibilities;
- To address the inequality of superannuation payments;
- To rectify the inadequacies of the Fair Work Act.
Because of the Federal Government’s failure to act, women are adversely affected.
Women are increasingly locked out of a secure retirement; women make up the majority of workers reliant on a minimum wage; women are more vulnerable to exploitative, casualised and insecure forms of work and due to deep rooted social norms, women face more disruptions over their working life by taking on the majority of the caring responsibilities for children, family members and/or aging parents.
On Gender Pay Day, IEU members call upon the Federal Government to stop short changing women and start addressing gender inequality by;
- Setting Targets and Timeframes to Accelerate Change.
Setting targets for action has the potential to close the gender pay gap within a significantly shortened timeframe and will strengthen the impact and implementation of policies.
- Implement measures which increase pay transparency.
The Fair Work Act must to be amended to ensure greater effectiveness of Equal Remuneration Orders. Alternative mechanisms need to be developed to address the undervaluing of women’s work. Pay secrecy clauses in employee contracts must be banned and any adverse action to employees who openly discuss wages or salaries prevented. Greater resources and support must be provided to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and its work.
- Provide greater support for working parents and carers
Parents and carers’ need the right to temporary part time work. Legislation for 26 weeks paid parental leave is overdue and superannuation must be paid on the Commonwealth Paid Parent Leave Scheme.
- Remove structural inequalities in the superannuation system
Ensure that superannuation is paid on all leave accruals and on the unpaid component of parental leave. Implement further increases in the Superannuation Guarantee rate. Remove the exemption for superannuation payments for employees earning less than $450 per month. Set a superannuation objective that supports the continuation of a strong three pillar retirement income system and includes specific reference to women’s incomes. Amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to ensure companies are permitted to make higher superannuation payments for their female employees.
On Gender Pay Day, IEU members stand up and say – It is time for change!
*Workplace Gender Equality Agency. www.wgea.gov.au