Report prompts guidance on gender pay equality in Victoria

gender pay

To mark Equal Pay Day, the Victorian government has released a new report that has spurred the development of new education resources to guide smaller organisations in closing the gender pay gap. 

The report, Equal pay matters: Achieving gender pay equality in small-to-medium enterprises, outlines research carried out by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. 

The report demonstrated that Victorian small and medium businesses have a limited understanding of gender pay equality and how to take measures to close the gender pay gap. Ten recommendations were also given to address barriers in smaller organisations. 

In response, the state government will fund the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to implement the first three recommendations. This includes developing practical and foundational educational resources and providing guidance on how to close the gender pay gap, while all findings are considered. 

The new educational resources will be developed alongside industry and cover the concept of gender pay equality, how to achieve it and the benefits of workplace diversity for businesses. They will also help organisations to understand their legal obligations to ensure equal pay. 

“It’s been proven that equitable workplaces are more productive, have less staff turnover, higher morale and are more profitable – it’s only fair to make sure smaller businesses can access these benefits,” minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas said. 

“Small and medium-sized organisations make up a significant proportion of the Victorian workforce and economy – supporting them with education and resources will make a big difference in reducing the gender pay gap.” 

In its research, the Commission surveyed and interviewed more than 70 owners and managers of small and medium-sized organisations in three sectors: the arts, financial services, and healthcare or social assistance. 

The drivers of pay inequality in smaller organisations were a limited understanding of the concept of equal pay and how it applies to them. 

They face internal issues such as a lack of transparency around pay, limited access to flexible working and parental leave. They’re also affected by external drivers such as rigid gender stereotypes and, in some instances, an absence of industry standards. 

Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows the national gender pay gap widened during the pandemic to 14.2 per cent, up from 13.4 per cent last year, with men on average earning $261.50 a week more than women. 

This increase was largely driven by higher growth in men’s full-time wages, especially in the construction industry. 

“Being paid fairly and equally for work of equal or comparable value is a basic human right,” Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights commissioner Ro Allen said. 

“Regardless of where we work – or our sex, gender, race or age – we are all entitled to be paid and treated fairly at work.” 

To view the full report, click here. 

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