Business groups react to Labor’s gender pay gap plan

Companies could be forced to publicly share their gender pay gap data, under a plan announced by the federal Labor party on Monday. But, the proposed measures have not been welcomed by everyone, with Ai Group chief Innes Willox suggesting they would be unnecessary, and might not be effective.

Revealed by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on International Women’s Day, the plan would require companies with 250 staff or more to report anonymised data concerning the salaries of managerial and non-managerial workers, in a public-facing portal.

The proposed scheme would also give the Fair Work Commission more power to order pay increases for workers in women-dominated or low paid industries, The Guardian reports.

And, it proposes reforming legislation that allows employers to ban their staff from telling colleagues how much they are paid.

Labor’s proposal aims to close the wage gap between women and men, which dropped 0.6 percentage points from 14% to 13.4% over the six months to March 2020.

However, business groups were quick to criticise the proposal. The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), said current legislation on workplace gender equality is effective and there is no need to expand reporting requirements for businesses.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox tells SmartCompany the Workplace Gender Equality Act already requires employers with 100 or more employees to submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

“These measures assess an employer’s gender pay equity performance and assist employers to change workplace culture and remuneration practices, which may lead to inequity in men’s and women’s pay,” he says.

Willox is also sceptical of Labor’s proposed ban on pay secrecy clauses, saying this is based on the “flawed premise” that non-disclosure by employees of their pay to their colleagues is a cause of the gender pay gap.

“Employees generally do not disclose the level of their remuneration to their work colleagues because this information is considered personal and private,” he says.

Willox also says the Fair Work Act gives the Commission power to issue equal remuneration orders to ensure equal pay for work of equal value.

Earlier this month, the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency confirmed that on average, men working full-time in Australia out earn women who work full-time by $242.20 per week.

Women earn a full-time base salary of $1562.00 per week, whereas men earn a base salary of $1804.20.

This story originally ran on Smart Company, and has been republished with permission.

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