Published March 2023
On the 8th of February 2023, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) welcomed the introduction of the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 into Federal Parliament.
The bill allows WGEA to publish gender pay gaps of employers with 100 or more workers – a key reform to drive transparency and action towards closing the gender pay gap. Both, the Minister for Women, and the Government have committed to implement all 10 recommendations from the 2021 Review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act.
These recommendations progress to implementation immediately, with some of the changes applying to current WGEA reporting periods.
In 2024, the WGEA will be publishing the gender pay gap for the first time. The reform also includes:
- setting a new requirement for policies or strategies across gender equality drivers; and
- refining what employers report to WGEA; and
- provisions in relation to sexual harassment and discrimination as a result of the Respect@Work report.
Below is the list of the 10 recommendations from the 2021 Review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act and recommended dates for implementation where available:
1. Make it easier for employers to report to WGEA and improve collection and sharing of gender data;
2. Publish organisation gender pay gaps to accelerate action to close them – Amend the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012to allow WGEA to publish gender pay gap information at an employer level as an overall figure and by quartile to encourage change within organisations. Individual employees’ pay information is not to be published. Conduct further stakeholder consultation to identify the best way to implement this recommendation and conduct a regulatory impact assessment ahead of implementation.
Regarding the publication of employer gender pay gap information, this applies in relation to the current reporting periods – that is – the reporting period that began on 1 April 2022 for private companies or entities (recommendation applied for the reporting period commencing 1 April 2023), and 1 January 2023 for Commonwealth companies or entities (Recommendation applied for reporting period commencing 1 January 2024). The first organisational gender pay gap is expected to be published in 2024.
3. Bridge the ‘action gap’ with new gender equality standards – to strengthen the existing minimum standards by amending the Workplace Gender Equality (Minimum Standards) Instrument 2014.
4. Reduce the regulatory burden on employers – Amend the Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Instrument 2013 (No. 1)to:
- Remove the ‘reporting levels to the CEO’ question;
- Replace ‘annualised full-time equivalent figures’. Enable relevant employers to report on actual earnings of part-time and casual employees as well as the number of hours employees are engaged;
- Replace the parental leave questions that currently ask employers to report on the ‘proportion’ of their workforce as employers find this burdensome.
Recommendation applied for reporting period commencing 1 April 2023 (Private Sector) and 1 January 2024 for the Public Sector.
5. Support Respect@Work implementation to prevent and address workplace sex-based harassment and discrimination – to align the Workplace Gender Equality Act and its associated legislative instrument, to include ‘sex-based harassment and discrimination’ as a gender equality indicator in the Workplace Gender Equality Act. It is already Gender Equality Indicator 6 in the Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Instrument 2013 (No. 1).
6. Research the best way to collect diversity data – focus on qualitative research.
7. Refine the gender equality indicators – Amend the Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Instrument 2013 (No. 1) to include mandatory reporting of employee’s age, employer primary workplace location, superannuation payment arrangements and CEOs remuneration data or equivalent (individual remuneration would not be public but would be aggregated to calculate gender pay gaps and used for other remuneration analysis and insights).
Recommendation applied for reporting period commencing 1 April 2023 (Private Sector) and 1 January 2024 (Public Sector).
8. Strengthen compliance and enforcement – Amend the Workplace Gender Equality Act so all relevant employers must comply with WGEA’s reporting obligations for Commonwealth grants eligibility and Commonwealth procurement participation.
9. Set WGEA up for future success to support employers to drive gender equality in Australian workplaces – WGEA is a critical enabler of the WGEA Review recommendations.
10. Review the Workplace Gender Equality Act in five years from the date any legislative changes commence.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance with completing your WGEA report
For more guidance about this update, or to find out how Edwards HR can support your business, contact our team today on 07 3568 0866.
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