New Workplace Gender Equality Act to replace Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act to acknowledge pay equity and caring responsibilities of both men and women as central to gender equality.
The Government has introduced the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012, establishing a new gender equality reporting framework for employers of more than 100 employees. The new reporting obligations will be phased in over the next two years with partial compliance required for reports due on 1 May 2013 and full compliance for reports due on 1 May 2014.
The Bill extends coverage to men and changes the name of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. The Act will also be recast to acknowledge pay equity and caring responsibilities of both men and women as central to gender equality.
The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency has also been renamed the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), which will receive reports and review compliance with the Act. The Agency will develop industry benchmarks and industry-specific strategies for achieving gender equality. It will continue to provide advice and support to reporting organisations and, in addition, will provide advice and support to organisations with less than 100 employees who are not required to report.
The gender equality reports require employers with 100 or more employees to disclose:
- The gender composition of their workforce and board;
- Their progress towards equal remuneration;
- The availability of flexible working arrangements for employees; and
- Their level of employee consultation on gender workplace equality.
Under the new obligations, the reports must be made available to employees and shareholders. Employees and unions must be informed of their ability to comment on the report. Employers who fail to comply with the obligations will be named in Parliament and excluded from Commonwealth Government contracts.