APS gender pay gap revealed in new data

By David Donaldson

Wednesday June 14, 2017

fifty percent – concept of gender equal opportunity or representation in political and public life sketched with white chalk on blackboard

New data released by the Australian Public Service Commission reveals the extent of the federal bureaucracy’s gender pay gap and shows that senior executives are enjoying pay rises while many lower-level government employees have been missing out.

Men in the Australian Public Service are paid 8.6% more than their female counterparts on average, according to the annual remuneration report released Wednesday.

It is the first time the APS gender pay gap has been made publicly available.

APS Commissioner John Lloyd noted that “the average female base salary was 8.6% lower than the average male base salary. This compares favourably with the 19.6% gender pay gap in the private sector.”

The gap is largely due to women being concentrated in lower classification jobs. There are more than twice as many women as men at APS4 level, for example, while this proportion falls to two-thirds at SES3. Because the overall workforce is weighted towards the middle, women also outnumber men overall, comprising around 58% of the APS.

APS total reward by classification and gender. Data source: APSC.

The pay gap is smaller when you compare within classification levels. Based on total reward — base salary plus benefits such as superannuation and bonuses — female graduates earn 98.5% of what their male counterparts do. Median total pay in the APS4-APS6 range is the same for both genders, while an SES3 woman on average earns 98.5% of what her male colleagues do.

The report catalogues data on 2565 Senior Executive Service employees and 127,320 non-executive staff as at 31 December 2016.

The APSC released a gender equality strategy in April 2016 that aims to drive a supportive culture, increase the number of women in leadership roles and encourage the take-up of flexible work. A year on, most APS departments have developed their own strategies, which appear to have high-level support within their own organisations.

The national gender pay gap is currently 16.0% and has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Executive pay increases outstrip rest of APS

Graduate and executive pay increased faster than the rest of the public service over the previous year.

The SES median base salary moved 2.3%, compared to only 0.3% for overall non-SES pay. The APSC put this gap down in part to ongoing enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations.

Percentage change in median total remuneration by classification, 2015 to 2016. Source: APSC.

In some agencies where a no vote was recorded on an EBA offer, senior executives were granted a salary increase. SES employees, with few exceptions, are not covered by enterprise agreements and embrace changes to work more flexibly. In most of these cases the initial increase was 3%, with lower increases in later years.

The gap is also partly due to the number of staff engaged and promoted during 2016 increasing. There were over 11,000 ongoing employees engaged in the 2016 calendar year, up from around 5800 the year before. The majority of non-SES employees commenced on salaries at the bottom pay point of the relevant classification. “This would have caused a downwards impact on remuneration movements,” says the APSC.

The commission also notes that 37 new APS enterprise agreements were made in 2016, but nine did not provide the first wage increase until 2017 and so do not influence the data.

The percentage of staff who receive motor vehicle allowances and performance bonuses each fell slightly in the past year, after falling significantly in the previous few years. In 2016 among SES employees, 67.5% enjoyed a vehicle allowance and 5.3% received a performance bonus. Just under 14% of the non-SES workforce were given bonuses.

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