‘Comparable value’ implications -chamber expresses concern

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‘Comparable value’ implications -chamber expresses concern

The Australian Business Chamber has called for a clear definition of the term ‘comparable value’, as well as further research into its possible effects on NSW employers, before the State Government proceeds with this issue by way of a Test Case.

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The Australian Business Chamber has called for a clear definition of the term ‘comparable value’, as well as further research into its possible effects on NSW employers, before the State Government proceeds with this issue by way of a Test Case.

In its submission to the NSW Pay Equity Taskforce, the Chamber said that the concept of equal pay for men and women doing work of ‘equal or comparable value’, as defined in the recently commenced NSW industrial laws, was much broader than the concept of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’.

The Chamber’s submission called for more research to be undertaken into the possible implications of ‘comparable value’ and warned against New South Wales going it alone with its pay equity definition on the grounds that it could render the State uncompetitive in relation to other States and the open world competitive economy.

"If this matter is to be progressed, it can only effectively be done through a single nationally coordinated approach," the submission said.

The Chamber lodged its submission to the Taskforce on Friday, 25 October, 1996.

The Taskforce was established by the NSW Government to help the State Industrial Relations Commission determine a Test Case on the matter. A Full Bench of the Commission will be required to establish guidelines for the implementation of pay equity principles into every award and agreement made under the State industrial laws.

The General Manager of the Chamber’s Industrial Relations Services, Jack Goludz, said the organisation was not necessarily against the ‘comparable value’ concept, but wanted to know what it meant in the Australian context and what its likely effects would be on business in the State.

"For instance, ‘comparable value’ could encompass something as wide as evaluating all jobs and then comparing them, ranking them and determining pay according to those rankings. Such a system could obviously have a very major impact on the way jobs are currently valued."

The Chamber also highlighted in its submission that the Federal Industrial Relations Commission was asked to consider a similar concept, ‘comparable worth’, in 1986 and declined to introduce it because of concerns that the flow-on implications would jeopardise the then centralised wage fixing system.

"We are saying the State Commission should not be forced to tangle with this issue until much more research has been done into what is meant by ‘comparable value’ in the Australian context.

"A lot more research is needed into this whole concept," Mr Goluzd said.

 
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