Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Questions without Notice
Women's Economic Security
Thank you, Senator Pratt, for the question and for your longstanding interest in gender equality and achieving gender equality in this country.
The secure job, better pay bill will deliver on the Albanese government's commitment to a fairer workplace relations system, which provides Australians with job security, gender equality and sustainable wage growth. For nearly a decade, wages were kept low as a deliberate design feature of the previous government's management of the economy. The secure jobs, better pay bill will take long overdue steps to promote gender equality, and promote pay and secure work for women.
The bill puts gender equality at the heart of the Fair Work system by making gender equality and job security objects of the Fair Work Act. It will make it easier for working women in undervalued industries to win a pay equity claim, before the commission, by removing the need to find a male comparator and by making clear that sex discrimination is not necessary to establish that work has been undervalued.
The bill will establish a pay equity expert panel, and a care and community sector expert panel, in the Fair Work Commission, supported by $20 million in funding from the October budget. It will provide greater access for bargaining, for lower paid and feminised sectors, through the supported bargaining stream. It will increase pay transparency by prohibiting pay secrecy clauses and strengthen access to flexible working arrangements so families can better share and manage their caring responsibilities. Where the previous government refused to act, this bill will prohibit sexual harassment under the Fair Work Act, a recommendation of the Respect@Work report. Women have waited far too long for this work to be properly valued, to get better access to flexible work and to feel safe and respected at work. They should not have to wait any longer. (Time expired)
ALLAGHER (—) (): I thank Senator Pratt for the question because the gender pay gap continues to sit at 14.1 per cent. I think all of us on this side of the chamber agree that that is unacceptable. Women go to work and they work hard but they earn less then men in the workplace. We must address the gender pay gap if we're going to have a gender-equal Australia. The secure jobs, better pay bill will provide greater access to bargaining for low-paid, highly feminised sectors such as the community sector, cleaning and early childhood education and care. Employees on enterprise agreements earn on average more than employees on awards. For example, in the female dominated healthcare and social assistance industry employees on awards are earning 19 per cent less in average hourly earnings than employees on collective agreements. We must prioritise these laws so we can improve the pay rates of women in these industries.
Yes, I can. The reforms are just one aspect of this government's ambition for Australia to be a leader on gender equality. Our budget put gender equality front and centre, investing over $7 billion in initiatives that will drive gender equality in this country. We are modernising paid parental leave and investing in cheaper child care. We introduced paid domestic violence leave. We supported wage increases for workers on minimum wages and in aged care. We are taking action to strengthen gender pay reporting. We'll implement all recommendations of the Respect@Work report. We'll keep the focus on gender equality through a national strategy to achieve gender equality, work that has been started now and will be finished in the first half of next year. We also have the Women's Economic Equality Taskforce, led by Sam Mostyn and 12 other amazing women who are putting their shoulders to the wheel to make sure that we can respond to the work that we do in assisting us to address economic equality for women.