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Gender pay gap reporting in Australia – What employers need to know?

Written by
Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Australia's leading independent law firm.
There is a direct obligation on employers to report gender pay differences in Australia. This article provides details.

In Australia, the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth) (Act) requires non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees (or corporate structures that employ 100 or more people across all entities within the structure) to submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) each year. 

Employers are required to complete a questionnaire addressing six gender equality indicators, one of which is equal remuneration between men and women. Employers with 500 or more employees must meet the minimum standard of having a policy or strategy in respect of at least one of four of the gender equality indicators specified in the Workplace Gender Equality (Minimum Standards) Instrument 2014 (Cth), one of which is equal remuneration between men and women and requires the inclusion of gender pay objectives within a formal remuneration policy or strategy. 

Employers are also required to submit a workplace profile reporting headcount as at an identified date within the reporting period, along with the gender, employment status, occupational category (including identification of graduates or apprentices) and annualised full-time equivalent base salary and total remuneration in respect of each (non-identified) employee. 

A version of the report containing the responses to the questionnaire and the aggregated data (excluding remuneration data) is made publicly available. 

If relevant employers do not submit the report on time and meet the approval, notification and access requirements they are considered non-compliant. Employers with 500 or more employers who do not meet the minimum standards and do not improve within the following two reporting periods are also non-compliant. Non-compliant employers may be named in a letter or electronic communication to the relevant Minister of Parliament, may not be eligible to tender for contracts under Commonwealth and some state procurement frameworks and may not be eligible for some Commonwealth grants or other financial help. 

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides that the Fair Work Commission may make an equal remuneration order requiring certain employees be provided with equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value. An application for such an order may be made by an affected employee, a registered union entitled to represent an affected employee or the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. An employer that contravenes an equal remuneration order may be liable for penalties, compensation or other remedies. 

Federal and State anti-discrimination laws make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the grounds of sex in regards to the terms and conditions of employment provided to employees (which includes pay and other benefits).