Unions want new IR system to close pay gap

News

Unions want new IR system to close pay gap

The union movement wants a specialist pay equity division and pay equity commissioner within Fair Work Australia (FWA) to ensure the gender pay gap is closed.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

The union movement wants a specialist pay equity division and pay equity commissioner within Fair Work Australia (FWA) to ensure the gender pay gap is closed.

In a submission to the House Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations Inquiry into Pay Equity and Female Workforce Participation, the ACTU and State Labour Councils say progress federally on equal pay has become ineffective.

The submission says deregulation of the labour market and dismantling of institutions that can directly and effectively intervene in the labour market relations have hampered improvements in women’s pay.

Gender segregation

It says the Australian labour market’s particularly high levels of gender segregation has resulted in women in female-dominated occupations and industries earning up to 40% less than women in male-dominated occupations and industries, and this trend appears to be increasing.

The submission says the WorkChoices regime particularly undermined the capacity for women to maintain pay equity by stripping the safety net, restricting the capacity of unions to represent employees, promoting individual contracts and restricting women’s access to equal remuneration remedies.

‘The long-term effects of the WorkChoices policy are most clearly seen in Western Australia [where] the pay gap has grown to 28% since the 1993 deregulation of WA labour laws,’ it says.

Proposed reforms

The submission points out that the considerable improvements in bridging the pay gap at State level have not been matched federally.

The reform proposed in the submission include:

  • maintaining a decent safety net of minimum wages and conditions

  • improving the capacity for women to bargain for over award wages and conditions

  • providing remedies to address the pay gap between those employees who do and those who do not have access to collective bargaining

  • improving access to flexible work arrangements and provisions for carers

  • introducing mandatory annual reporting of basic remuneration data for all employers

  • instigating regulatory measures to prevent pay inequity

  • broadening the capacity of Fair Work Australia (FWA) to address pay equity

  • providing FWA with broad discretion and powers to make any orders it sees fit to remedy pay inequity

  • establishing a specialist Pay Equity Division that is proactive in addressing the gender gap and which integrates the monitoring, compliance and remedial aspects of the pay equity scheme

  • establishing a Pay Equity Commissioner within FWA.

Post details