Work laws must address equal pay

| August 30, 2019
The peak body for working people used Equal Pay Day (28 August) to call on Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter to address the pervasive and ongoing inequality for women at work in his upcoming review of the Fair Work Act.

According to figures from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women working full-time are paid 14 percent less than men are.

Equal Pay Day was held on Wednesday and. marks the additional 59 days women must work from the end of the last financial year to earn the same amount as men. The gap amounts to $241.50 per week between women and men’s full-time earnings on average in Australia.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil said everyone should be paid enough to plan and live a decent life. It’s a principle of basic fairness that your gender should not determine your paycheque.

“But in Australia in 2019, women working full-time are short-changed by an average of nearly $250 per week.

“It’s the responsibility of the Federal Government to ensure equality for working women. The current measures that are supposed to do this are failing.

“Given that Christian Porter has promised to review our workplace laws, he should prioritise equal pay for women.”

Australian women continue to face systemic inequality. Women are undervalued in their work, particularity in female-dominated occupations and industries.

Women are disproportionately working in insecure and precarious forms of employment and shoulder the responsibility of caring for children and family members, which disrupts consistent engagement with work. They are also the majority of workers who experience violence in the workplace and outside of it.

The ACTU has previously called for a greater emphasis on equal pay outcomes through gender equity principals in the Fair Work Act, as well as specialist unit in the industrial umpire. This would assess both new agreements and modern award reviews for their effect on gender pay equity.

The body has also identified better access to collective bargaining, safeguards for work security and a reversal of penalty rate cuts as necessary to achieve equal pay.

The existing mechanisms for achieving equal pay have proven, with a few exceptions, to be costly, time-consuming, adversarial and ineffective.