Labor is calling for greater transparency over the gender pay gap in Australia – vowing to create laws that would require companies to report such data publicly.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese announced the move on Monday to coincide with International Women’s Day, saying more action was needed to slash Australia’s gender pay disparity.
He said Labour would set up a searchable pay equity website that would publish pay data from the private sector.
Data in February showed the pay gap narrowed to 13.4 per cent in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite this, women working full-time still earned $242 less than men each week, on average.
“That’s not good enough in 2021,” Mr Albanese told reporters.
“The first step is accountability and transparency. If you had that, what you would have his pressure on the companies to do something about it.”
Currently companies report gender pay data to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) – but the results from individual companies are not made public.
Under Labor’s plan, companies with more than 250 staff would be required to publicly report their gender pay gaps.
Companies with more than 1,000 employees would be required to report within two years, and other companies would be required to report within four years.
Labor Senator Jenny McAllister said Australia’s 13.4 per cent gender pay disparity has remained “far too high” for too long.
“Australian women do deserve better – we need national leadership to resolve this problem,” she said.
The announcement comes as the world marks International Women’s Day – and the federal government grapples with scrutiny over its recent handling of sexual assault allegations.
Labor is also vowing to strengthen the capacity of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries.
Under Labor’s plan, it would also prohibit pay secrecy clauses that prevent some employees from disclosing their remuneration.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions released a report on Monday warning Australia’s current gender pay gap puts it 44th in world rankings of pay equity.
Australia was ranked 15th on similar measures in 2006, according to the report.
“Australian industries and occupations are highly gender segregated, with the ones dominated by women being paid less and featuring fewer protections,” ACTU President Michele O’Neil said.
“This stems from historical gendered assumptions about the value of ‘women’s work’.”
Minister for Women Marise Payne said the gender pay gap remained a “volatile” figure following the impact of the COVID-19 recession.
“The statistics show us that we have again narrowed the gender pay gap, but it is currently a very volatile figure,” she told reporters.
“It is volatile because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, on business and employers, and the path through this is not at all a straight path.”