Businesses to be named and shamed on pay gaps

Workers will be able to compare the gender pay gaps in different workplaces from early next year when data for all companies with more than 100 employees is published online.

New federal laws require the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to release data for private businesses from early 2024 and for Commonwealth public sector employees the following year.

The gender pay gap is at 13.3 per cent, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.


While the agency already collects this data, it has not had the power to publicly publish the company-by-company detail until now. In the first release, workers will be able to see gender pay gaps by median and remuneration quartile.

The agency’s chief executive, Mary Wooldridge, said going public with pay gaps would make businesses accountable.

“Publishing employer gender pay gaps will provide [workers] deeper insights on their employer’s progress, while jobseekers can get a clearer indication of a prospective employer’s commitment to ensuring the contributions of all employees are equally valued and rewarded,” Wooldridge said.

“This is also an opportunity for employers who may have been slow to prioritise gender equality to get serious about change.”

The gender pay gap is at 13.3 per cent, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

The gender equality agency estimates women earn 87¢ on average for every dollar men earn, leaving full-time female employees $253.50 a week or more than $13,000 a year worse off than their male peers.

Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said on current projections, it would take 26 years for the gender pay gap to close, but the law passed this week would help to keep it shrinking.

“It is going to ensure that at a business level where the gender pay gap exists, that will be reported and people will be able to see that,” she said in the Senate on Thursday.

“It’s important from a transparency and accountability reason, but it’s also about driving the reform that’s needed to close the gender pay gap.”

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said the change was an important step in improving the economic security of women.

“The new legislation will also play an important role in encouraging business, industry and government to be more active in their efforts to reduce the gender pay gap,” she said.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the industry was committed to closing the gender pay gap, which was at 15 per cent in the sector.

“The community has a right to know how companies are performing in addressing gender pay gaps,” he said.

But he said businesses should be given enough notice before the data was published to allow them to improve their performance.

Wooldridge said all employers would be able to provide an explanation and their plan to tackle the issue alongside their published gender pay gap.

The opposition’s spokesperson for women, Sussan Ley, said while the pay gap was closing, there was more work to be done and her party was taking the problem seriously.

“The Australian parliament is united when it comes to closing the gender pay gap,” she said.

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