Employer gender pay gaps are about to be published. Here’s what you need to know

From 27 February 2024, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) will begin publishing the gender pay gaps of private sector Australian employers with a workforce of 100 or more employees.

This change is part of new reforms to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 which aim to accelerate workplace gender equality in Australia, in this case, by encouraging employers to deploy and drive workplace policies, practices and environments to assist in closing the gender pay gap.

It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on, improve and communicate your organisation’s gender equity journey.

Here, we unpack everything you need to know about the publication of gender pay gaps.

Access support resources

DCA's new resource page provides information on the upcoming changes to the WGEA requirements.

Why is this change necessary?

While gender equality in Australian workplaces has come a long way since reporting to WGEA began in 2013, progress has stalled over the past few years.

The gender pay gap currently sits at 21.7%, which means for every $1 on average a man makes in Australia, women earn 78c. Over a year, that difference adds up to $26,393.

Greater transparency of pay-gap data has been shown to contribute to closing the pay gap in individual employers and across industries. International examples show publishing employer gender pay gaps can push organisations to prioritise gender equality, including UK research indicating it motivated some employers to actively narrow the wage gap.

While the drivers of pay inequality are multiple and complex, these reforms will bring greater accountability and awareness to this issue and are a positive step toward fairer conditions across Australian workplaces.

What does this mean for employers?

The first release of gender pay gap data will be made public on 27 February 2024 and will cover the period from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023. This first release will include private-sector organisations only.

Employers won’t need to provide WGEA with any additional information to calculate their pay gaps as the published data will draw on existing reporting data supplied by employers in their Gender Equity Reporting.

However, each organisation will have the opportunity to provide a statement to give context for their result and outline their plans for action. To help prepare, employers will be informed of their organisational gender pay gap well in advance of it being made public.

The release of Commonwealth public sector organisation’s gender pay gaps will be published in late 2024 or early 2025. Data for Commonwealth public sector organisations will be based on 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2023 reporting.

What happens next?

The publication of employers’ gender pay gaps is just one part of a series of new reforms to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

For employers who are already required to report to WGEA (including both private and public sector organisations with 100 or more employees), the new reforms will involve changes to your organisation’s reporting requirements. From April, employers will be required to provide more detailed workforce data to help address gaps in the WGEA dataset and create a better understanding of gender inequality in Australia. The additional information will include employee age (year of birth), primary workplace location, and CEO, Head of Business and Casual Manager remuneration.

There are also expanded reporting requirements concerning prevention and response to sexual harassment, harassment on the grounds of sex, or discrimination in the workplace.

The new legislation also requires employers to provide their WGEA Executive Summary and Industry Benchmark Report to their Board.

For more information on the new reforms, read DCA’s guide to understanding changes to WGEA requirements.

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