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Pay gag clauses being used to punish women who ask for pay equity

Media Release
Larissa Waters 27 Oct 2016

Evidence today to the Senate Education and Employment Committee from academic experts about the gender pay gap has revealed a concerning trend that some employers are using “pay gag clauses” against women challenge unequal pay.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson on women, Senator Larissa Waters said:

“Evidence today from witnesses suggested that ‘pay gag clauses’ are being enforced by 50 – 90% of private sector organisations according to forthcoming studies. 

“Most disturbingly, evidence suggests that some bosses are using pay gag clauses as an excuse to punish workers and especially women who challenge unequal pay. 

“There is no excuse for discrimination, and it’s disappointing to hear that some unscrupulous employers are using these clauses as a tool for controlling and intimidating women.

“It’s clearer than ever that pay gag clauses serve to mask unfair pay decisions,” Senator Waters said



  • See Submission 8 from Professor Michelle Brown and Leanne Griffin, Melbourne University:
    • “Almost all our study participants indicated that their organisation sanctioned employees who were found to have disclosed their pay details to co-workers. The severity of these sanctions varied from an informal caution through to dismissal. Since most organisations do not have a formalised pay secrecy policy, any disciplinary action or penalties are imposed on the grounds that the employee has breached the confidentiality clause contained in his or her employment contact. These penalties appear to be enforced when employees lodge pay claims or complaints using information about co-workers’ pay.


Contact: Asia Munro 0419 626 725

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