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Greens call for increase in WGEA’s powers

Media Release
Larissa Waters 24 Nov 2021

The Greens say the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) must be given more powers to tackle gender inequality in the workplace, including the ability to require organisations to report on the number of sexual harassment incidents reported by employees and how they were handled.

In her submission to the review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act Senator Larissa Waters called for all public and private sector organisations with more than 50 workers to: 
      * provide details on the number of sexual harassment complaints made, the number of complaints resolved, disciplinary actions taken, and whether the employer uses non-disclosure agreements
      * publish workplace pay data and remove employee pay gag clauses
      * take meaningful action to reduce their gender pay gap or lose eligibility for government grants and contracts
      * identify and address intersectional pay inequity experienced by First Nations women, culturally diverse women, LGBTIQ women, and women with disability 

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters said:

“Over the past decade WGEA has done important work to increase awareness, provide rigorous analysis of gender pay disparity in Australian workplaces, and to identify ways to close the gap.

“But the needle hasn’t moved very much. In fact, during the pandemic the gender pay gap has actually grown and Australia has crashed to 50th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report rankings.

“WGEA needs more power to hold employers to account and ensure that there are real consequences for non-compliance.

“It’s not enough to simply have sexual harassment policies - employers should be able to show that those policies are actually working, which is why we’ve called for employers to be required to report on the number of complaints and the actions taken.

“The lack of transparency around the gender pay gap and secrecy about salaries, bonuses and promotions disadvantage women in the workforce. Employer-level data must be made publicly available to shame poor performing employers, and there must be greater pay transparency so women can tell when they’re being short-changed compared to their male colleagues.”

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