Labor commits to closing APS gender pay gap

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday March 8, 2021

Anthony Albanese slams Laming
Anthony Albanese has slammed Morrison for failing to punish Liberal MP Andrew Laming over Laming’s treatment of two women living in his electorate. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

Labor will take action to close the gender pay gap within the Australian Public Service if it is elected to government, according to Anthony Albanese.

At a press conference on Monday morning, coinciding with International Women’s Day, the federal opposition leader proposed four steps to close the gender pay gap across Australian workforces.

One of those components involved addressing the pay gap in the APS, which is predominantly made up of women.

“The commonwealth cannot ask the private sector to do something without showing leadership ourselves, and under a Labor government, we would have an audit across all of the departments of the Australian Public Service, using the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s tools in the first year to identify exactly where these issues are,” Albanese said.

The 2019-20 State of the Service report, released in November, noted that there is a gender pay gap of 7.3% in favour of men in the APS. While that figure has reduced from 9.1% in 2015, “there is more to be done to reduce the gender pay gap in the APS”, the report said.

READ MORE: Women still not equal at the highest levels of the APS

Albanese said that if Labor were elected, the ability and capacity of the Fair Work Commission would be strengthened to order pay increases for workers in low-paid and female-dominated industries.

Labor would also give workers the right to talk about their salaries by banning pay secrecy clauses.

“Now, I think most Australians would find it extraordinary that there are clauses that prohibit people from saying what their working conditions are,” Albanese said.

“What that does — the secrecy clauses — is provide a handbrake as well so there can’t be a comparison to see whether women and men doing exactly the same work are paid exactly the same amount.”

Companies with more than 250 employees would also be required by law to publicly report their gender pay gap.

“Initially, that number will be 1000 and that will be phased in over four years to give companies the time to do that,” Albanese said.

“What we know is that companies already have to report the gender pay data to the workplace gender equality agency. But at the moment, no one knows what the outcomes are. That makes no sense.”

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