One of the main causes of the gender pay gap is low pay and conditions in care sectors, like aged care, early childhood education and care, and disability care, where the vast majority of workers are women.
Care work is undervalued, underpaid, and increasingly less secure. This is making it hard to attract thousands of new care workers we need, and to keep those already working in the sector in their jobs.
The current workplace relations system can’t fully deal with some of the unique characteristics of care and community sector work. This includes gender undervaluation, federal funding with private provision, and weak bargaining power.
We need to tackle these problems in a fair and coordinated way to make a real difference to the lives of thousands of women working in the care economy, and in other under-paid jobs.
As the country’s workplace regulator, the Fair Work Commission needs the tools to be part of the solution to workforce challenges to help meet Australia’s skills needs.
An Albanese Labor Government will make gender pay equity an object of the Fair Work Act and will make it easier for the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries.
Labor will put in place a statutory Equal Remuneration Principle, like they have in Queensland, to help guide the way the Commission considers equal remuneration and work value cases.
We’ll also set up two new Expert Panels in the Fair Work Commission – one for Pay Equity and one for the Care and Community Sector – so that the Commission has the expertise and knowledge of the sector they need to deal with emerging workforce challenges in crucial care sectors and improve conditions for Australia’s fastest growing workforce.
The two new panels will operate in the same way as the Annual Wage Review Expert Panel and will be backed by a dedicated research unit.
Labor will commit $8.4 million over the forward estimates for the expert panels and the research unit.
For the two new Expert Panels, experts in relevant fields such as gender and pay equity, anti-discrimination and the care industry will be appointed on a part-time basis to assist the Fair Work Commission in determining certain matters relating to equal remuneration orders in the case of the Pay Equity Panel and award cases in the case of the Care and Community Sector Panel.
Labor will also consult with all relevant parties on alternative means of making equal remuneration orders to achieve more timely resolution of equal remuneration applications.
This commitment is part of Labor’s national push to help close the gender pay gap.