Closing the gender pay gap

An Albanese Labor Government will lead a national push to close the gender pay gap.

Research shows Australian women working for companies that report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), earn, on average, $25,534 less than men every year and face a 20% gap in total wages.

The situation is only getting worse. A report card released by the WGEA in November 2020 revealed a decline in employer action on gender equity.

An Albanese Government will:

  • Legislate so companies with more than 250 employees will have to report their gender pay gap publicly.
  • Prohibit pay secrecy clauses and give employees the right to disclose their pay, if they want to.
  • Take action to address the gender pay gap in the Australian Public Service.
  • Strengthen the ability and capacity of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female dominated industries.

Labor will also strengthen the National Employment Standards by legislating a right to ten days paid family and domestic violence leave – because women experiencing family violence should not have to choose between leaving a violent relationship and keeping their job.

This announcement builds on commitments Labor has already made to improve job security and pay equity for Australian women; and our commitment to cheaper childcare, including scrapping the $10,560 child care subsidy cap and lifting the maximum child care subsidy rate to 90 per cent.

Only Labor will make sure no woman is held back, and no woman is left behind.

Our message to all women seeking equal pay and secure work is that Labor is on your side.


More information

A Labor Government will lead a national push to help close the gender pay gap. 

Summary:

  • Legislating so companies with more than 250 employees will have to report their gender pay gap publicly. 
  • Prohibit pay secrecy clauses and give employees the right to disclose their pay, if they want to. 
  • Taking action to address the gender pay gap in the Australian Public Service. 
  • Strengthening the ability and capacity of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female dominated industries. 

The problem:

  • The national gender pay gap is 13.4%, calculated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). 
  • If you factor in total earnings – like bonuses and overtime – the gap grows to almost 16%. In some states it’s over 20%. 
  • And in some industries (like health care and social services) women are, on average, paid almost 25% less – or to express it a different way – men working in health care and social services earn 32% more, on average, than their female colleagues. 
  • On average, women working full-time earned $1562.00 while men working full-time earned $1804.20. 
  • Full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men is $242.20. 
  • A report card released by WGEA in November 2020 revealed a decline in employer action on gender equity. According to the report, Australian women working for companies that report to WGEA, earn, on average, $25,534 less than men every year and face a 20% gap in total remuneration. 

Policy detail:

A Labor Government will lead a national push to help close the gender pay gap by: 

Legislating so companies with more than 250 employees will have to report their gender pay gap publicly. These companies already report their gender pay data to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency but it is not made public. Labor will set up a searchable gender pay equity portal which would publish companies’ headline gender pay gap, and managerial and non-managerial pay gaps. Companies would have the option of providing a statement explaining their pay gap and actions to address it. Following legislation, there will be a staged phase in, with very large companies (over 1000 employees) reporting in two years, and other companies within four years. Companies that are non-compliant with the WGEA Act will remain ineligible to tender for government contracts and the Minister will publish an annual list of non-compliant companies. 

Prohibit pay secrecy clauses and give employees the right to disclose their pay, if they want to. This will promote pay transparency and make sure workers are protected from adverse action if they exercise their right to disclose (or not disclose) their pay. Pay secrecy clauses are a significant constraint to employees bargaining for pay rises. In the public sector where pay rates are transparent, the gender pay gap is smaller than in the private sector. 

Taking action to address the gender pay gap in the Australian Public Service. All Australian government departments and agencies will conduct gender pay audits using the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s tools within the first year of government. 

Strengthening the ability and capacity of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female dominated industries. This includes establishing a statutory Equal Remuneration Principle, to guide the Fair Work Commission’s consideration of whether feminised industries are paid fairly. For example, making it clear that a male comparator is not required to assess whether workers in an industry are receiving equal pay for work of equal or comparable value. 

What data will be made public?

Companies already report their gender pay data to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency annually. Under Labor’s policy, headline gender pay gap figures for companies with more than 1,000 employees will be made public. This will include: 

  • Company-wide gender pay gap
  • Managerial level pay gap
  • Non-managerial pay gap

This information is already collected by WGEA. Companies will not be required to make the full remuneration profiles they currently report to WGEA public. 

Companies will also be given the option of providing a statement explaining their pay gap and actions to address it, if they wish to do so.