(Bloomberg) -- Australian companies with more than 100 employees will have to reveal their gender pay gaps as part of new income equality legislation passed by the nation’s Parliament on Thursday.
While Australia currently requires firms to report the disparity to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, which then publishes results by industry, individual companies will now have to disclose the pay gaps on a yearly basis under the new law.
The measure is intended to speed up workplace equality in Australia where the pay gap between men and women is still higher than the OECD average, after gains stalled during the pandemic. The legislation follows a review of the 2012 gender equality framework and comes after a broader international push on wage transparency. Similar policies are in place in the European Union and the UK.
In the UK, companies with more than 250 employees have been required to report their gender pay gap since 2017, though there has been limited progress in narrowing it. Among Australian firms that operate there, Macquarie Group Ltd. and Telstra Group Ltd. already report the figures. At Macquarie UK, women earn 91% of what men do on an hourly basis while Telstra’s disparity was wider at 26%, according to 2020 data.
Australia’s gender pay gap is currently 13.3%, according to the Australian Bureau for Statistics, which is a record low for the country but still above the OECD’s 11.9% average. The gap is even wider according to data from the WGEA, which said improvements stalled at a 22.8% gap last year. On average, the WGEA said women earn A$26,596 ($17,780) less than men, including bonuses and other financial incentives.
As most of Australia’s blue chip companies don’t have a big enough footprint in the UK to have to comply with the disclosure mandate, the local legislation will be the first time their employees will see how wide the disparity is.
In Japan, companies with 301 or more employees face new wage reporting standards, while the US has a nationwide salary transparency movement to tackle gender and racial wage differences.
Last year, the World Economic Forum said it would take another 132 years to close the global gender pay gap. Worldwide, women are paid about 20% less than men, the International Labour Organization estimates. Australia ranks 43rd on the Global Gender Gap Index where Iceland, Finland, Norway and New Zealand lead the list.
According to the WGEA, Australia’s worst industries for pay inequality are health and science, while public administration was on the other end, with a gender pay gap of 6%.
This is a “critical reform,” Minister for Finance and Women Katy Gallagher told the Senate last week. “Women have waited long enough for the pay gap to close, and they shouldn’t have to wait another quarter of a century to see their work equally valued.”
--With assistance from Janet Paskin and Chris Bourke.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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