Workplace gender equality legislation receives assent

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Workplace gender equality legislation receives assent

Federal legislation designed to support gender equality and improve workforce participation and workplace flexibility received assent on 6 December 2012.

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Federal legislation designed to support gender equality and improve workforce participation and workplace flexibility received assent on 6 December 2012

The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Act 2012 amends the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 to give effect to a 2010 election campaign commitment by the Labor Government.

Visit the Parliamentary Business webpage for details on the legislation.

Outline
 
The new Act is called the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) is now the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

The principal objectives of the amended Act are:
  • to promote and improve gender equality (including equal remuneration between women and men) in employment and in the workplace; and
  • to support employers to remove barriers to the full and equal participation of women in the workforce, in recognition of the disadvantaged position of women in relation to employment matters; and
  • to promote, among employers, the elimination of discrimination on the basis of gender in relation to employment matters (including in relation to family and caring responsibilities); and
  • to foster workplace consultation between employers and employees on issues concerning gender equality in employment and in the workplace; and
  • to improve the productivity and competitiveness of Australian business through the advancement of gender equality in employment and in the workplace.
Reporting on gender equality by businesses
 
The Federal Government has almost doubled the Agency’s funding to enhance its role in supporting and advising industry.
  • The Agency will develop industry-level benchmarks and industry-specific strategies.
  • It will provide advice, resources and referrals, and targeted assistance, particularly to low performing organisations.
  • The Agency will have an important role in developing, maintaining and promoting the data it collects.
  • Smaller organisations with less than 100 employees are not required to report, but they are able to access the Agency’s education and incentive activities.
Details are at available from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
 
This year, 2012, employers will report under the old system and in 2013 they will only be required to report on their workforce profile. First new reports will be due in 2014, relating to the reporting period April 2013 to March 2014.

Further communication and education activities will be undertaken to provide employers with information and support they need.

What happens next?
 
The government and the Agency will be working with business and other key stakeholder to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.

The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency will also be contacting reporting organisations directly and regularly throughout the implementation period.

The majority of substantive changes commence 1 April 2013

More information
 
More information will be provided on the FaHCSIA website, as well as the website of the WGEA.

 
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