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Ending pay secrecy alone won’t close gender pay gap

Media Release
Larissa Waters 21 Oct 2022

The Greens welcome the announcement this week that the government’s Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will include new rules to end pay secrecy clauses to stop employees from discussing how much they get paid, something the Greens have previously sought to legislate for.

Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson for Women, Senator Larissa Waters

“Pay secrecy has been an ongoing contributor to the gender pay gap.

“Abolishing mandatory pay secrecy is what my 2015 Fair Work Amendment (Gender Pay Gap) Bill proposed, and we are glad that the new Government has now adopted that approach. 

“Employment contracts that insist on pay secrecy have been used to hide the gender pay gap. Removing employee pay gag clauses will create a more level playing field for women in the workplace.

“However, this move is not the panacea to close the persistent gender pay gap. The latest gender pay gap stats released yesterday show we need to ensure women-dominated occupations are remunerated in a way that better reflects their value to society. 

“The easiest way to close the gender pay gap is to pay women more. The government could legislate for above average wage increases over 10 years in women-dominated industries, which would provide a much-needed boost to women’s economic security and ensure we can attract and retain staff in these critical sectors.  

“The Workplace Gender Equality Agency should also be given more powers to tackle gender inequality in the workplace, including preventing companies who are not working to reduce their pay gap from getting government contracts, and requiring organisations to report on the volume of sexual harassment complaints (including actions taken) and use non-disclosure agreements.

“We welcome this first step, but women still have to work an extra 60 days to earn the same average salary as men, and the gender pay gap won’t close just because workers are allowed to talk about it,” concluded Senator Waters.

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