Equal Pay Day: #WhatsYourPayGap?
Does your workplace measure and act to address its gender pay gap?
There’s no denying Australia’s history with gender equality has been a tumultuous path. It wasn’t until 1972 when the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission granted equal pay for men and women which resulted in an overall rise in women’s wages of around 30 per cent - which begs the question, how much were women valued financially in the workplace prior to this?
And although the equal pay case led to some improvements in women’s wages, it is apparent they, along with LGBTQI+ persons, people of colour and people with disability, are still a product of disproportionate inequality.
There is a lot to consider with recent events though, with Workplace Gender Equality Agency released this year indicating a new national gender pay gap figure of 14.2 per cent. This marks Equal Pay Day as part of the additional 61 days required from the end of a financial year for women, on average, to work so to earn the same annual pay as their male counterparts.
This is not a matter of stigmatising white cis-gendered men in the workplace. Closing the pay gap is about fairness – the work of Australians, regardless of a person having a disability, their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or age deserves to be equally and fairly valued in our workplaces.
So, how do we raise this issue with employers? And more importantly, how can employers help in bridging the gap?
GOTAFE Certificate IV in Accounting & Bookkeeping (FNS40217) student Jane* works in the community service sector and not long ago realised that she was being underpaid.
“As the manager, I often submit financial reports to relevant funding bodies but do not really have an understanding of what the reports mean for the business,” she said.
“I hoped that this course would give me the background required to understand, interpret and action the financial information for the business better.”
Often we assume employers purposefully underpay their staff, but this is not always the case.
As well as learning all about legal compliances in her course, Jane* was also taught about industry standards, awards and agreements in her payroll subject and in her learning process, discovered that she was being underpaid. Luckily, she learned through her course with GOTAFE that it is always best to seek advice and confirmation before making any big claims. Jane* sat down with her bookkeeper and shared her thoughts and collected facts contacting FairWork Australia, who confirmed she was being underpaid.
Together, Jane* and her employer worked with FairWork Australia to determine the best way for this to be corrected. They identified the required short fall of payments (wages, superannuation and taxes) and put together a report for the Board of Management with recommendations.
“This enabled my employers to see the reason for the pay increase requirement, and a third body expert to contact for confirmation,” she said.
While it was at times an uncomfortable situation to be in, Jane said being open and well researched showed her employers there was no malicious intent to her request for the pay rise.
“It also showed them it was not directly their fault for the shortfall, but it was their responsibility to ensure the correct pay is applied moving forward,” she said.
Before completing her Certificate IV in Accounting & Bookkeeping, Jane had no idea how to determine if she was paid correctly.
“I would have demanded a pay raise based on my own interpretation of the agreement,” she said.
“This would have made my relationship with my employer less positive.”
With all her knowledge acquired through her course and this experience, Jane* feels Equal Pay Day (August 31, 2021) is an opportunity for employers and employees alike to achieve equal pay, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.
“All employees should be correctly paid according to the duties and responsibilities the person holds in their position,” she said.
“A person’s gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender should never impact the pay rate of the employee, because these factors do not affect their ability to complete their duties or their performance standard.”
Jane* says that approaching conversations about your pay with your employer can be hard – but it is important you don’t assume you are an expert at understanding awards and agreements.
“Get advice from the right sources and get your facts together,” she said.
Jane* also noted that often when you enter a discussion with an aggressive attitude, it will be mirrored back to you – something she also learned during her course with GOTAFE.
As for employers, Jane* said ensuring all employees are aware of what Award or Agreement they are on and they have the Fair Work Australia information sheet will assist in creating an environment that welcomes discussion.
For more information regarding Equal Pay Day, how to talk pay with your employer/employees or to check out our sources, visit the websites listed below:
More statistics regarding pay gaps are listed below:
- Men who identify as gay or queer earn an average of 11 per cent less than heterosexual men.
- Women who identify as lesbian or queer earned nine per cent more than heterosexual women.
- On average, it takes women of colour 19 months to be paid the same as what a white cis-gendered male earns in one year.
- Men of colour earn 88 cents for every dollar that a white man earns.
Content note: We have chosen to protect the privacy of our student and her workplace with a pseudonym.