The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) is an Australian government agency. It is statutory authority located within the portfolio of the Australian Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). EOWA’s role is to administer the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Commonwealth) which was passed by the Federal Parliament in November 2012, and through education, assist organisations to achieve equal opportunity for women. Outlined in Part III Section 10 of the Act, the Agency is primarily a regulatory body, whose role is to annually monitor the reporting of eligible Australian organisations on equal opportunity for women in their workplaces.
The Agency also has responsibility to undertake research, educational and other programs, and more generally promote the understanding of equal opportunity for women in the workplace within the community. In 2012, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 was replaced by the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. The passing of the new legislation means the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency has now been renamed the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. The Employer of Choice for Women (EOCFW) citation is announced annually since the 2001 inaugural list of 55 organisations. As of 2012, the list had grown to 125 organisations.
Gender pay gap in Australia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Main article: Gender pay gap
Gender pay gap in Australia refers to the difference between the average female and average male salary. It is calculated on the average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time employees published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The gender pay gap excludes part-time, casual earnings and overtime payments. Australia has a persistent gender pay gap. Since 1990, the gender pay gap remained within a narrow range of between 15 and 18%. In May 2013, the Australian gender pay gap was 17.5%.
A 2009 report by the National Center for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) prepared for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairsstated: “Using robust microeconomic modelling techniques, based on a comprehensive and critical evaluation of several methodologies, we found that simply being a woman is the major contributing factor to the gap in Australia, accounting for 60 per cent of the difference between women’s and men’s earnings, a finding which reflects other Australian research in this area. Indeed, the results showed that if the effects of being a woman were removed, the average wage of an Australian woman would increase by $1.87 per hour, equating to an additional $65 per week or $3,394 annually, based on a 35 hour week.” (The second most important factor in explaining the pay gap was industrial segregation.)
Data collected by NATSEM for the Catalyst Australia publication, Equality Speaks, found that the gap between the average wealth of men and women also varies according to the occupations and industries in which they are engaged. According to industry, the largest gap in personal wealth between men and women is within the ﬁnance and insurance sector ($330 600 versus $88 500) where many women work. By contrast, there exists only a small differential in the construction industry ($63 500 versus $62 700) where few women work. In other industries where many women work, there are large wealth gaps: for example, in health and community services ($174 000 versus $68 000) and retail trade ($84 000 versus $34 000). Turning from industry to occupation, other signiﬁcant disparities are revealed. The greatest disparity between the average wealth of men and women is amongst elementary clerical, sales and service workers ($110 400 versus $19 900). Jobs that fall within this category include sales assistants, security guards and laundry workers. The smallest relative wealth gap can be seen in advanced clerical and service workers ($91 600 versus $83 500). Jobs in this occupational category include book-keepers, personal assistants and secretaries. Ian Watson of Macquarie University also examined the gender pay according to occupation, specifically the gap among full-time managers in Australia over the period 2001-2008.
He found that between 65 and 90% of this earnings differential could not be explained by a large range of demographic and labor market variables. Watson notes that a “major part of the earnings gap is simply due to women managers being female.” He also found that despite the “characteristics of male and female managers being remarkably similar, their earnings are very different, suggesting that discrimination plays an important role in this outcome.” Economist Paul Miller explored the degree to which the Australian gender pay gap differs across the wage distribution and found that the gender pay gap was much greater among high wage earners than among low wage earners. At the top of the wage distribution (95th quantile) the pay gap reached 25% or more while at the bottom the pay gap was around 10%.
He concluded that “the notion of a ‘glass ceiling’, whereby women struggle to advance beyond some point in the more typical career path, is certainly prevalent in the Australian labour market.” In a similar study, Hiao Joo Kee found that the gender pay gap increased at higher levels of the wage distribution in the private sector – leading to her conclusion that a glass ceiling existed there – but that the gap in the public sector was “relatively constant” over all percentiles. Moreover, Kee found that the acceleration of the pay gap across the wage distribution does not vanish even after extensive controls. She concludes that the gender pay gap in both sectors was a result of differences in returns to the same characteristics between men and women. Trends in the Australian labor force
In 2010 Australian females represented 50.2% of the Australian population and 45.3% of the workforce. Trends within the Australian labour force have female workforce participants increasingly more educated than their male counterparts with more females completing year 12 and going on to university than males – in 2008 females made up 55 per cent of students enrolled in Australian tertiary institutions. In 2010 Finance was the industry with the widest gender pay gap at 32.2%, followed by Health Care and Social Assistance at 27.2% and Mining at 22.7%.
Cases and legislation
Until 1969, legislation allowed employers to pay women a minimum rate of pay that was 25 per cent less than male employees doing the same or similar work. In 1969 the first federal pay case established the principle of equal pay for equal work. The 1969 case established a principle that affected 18 per cent of women workers, mostly teachers and nurses. In 1972, the second federal equal pay case widened the 1969 principle to equal pay for work of equal value in line with International Labour Organisation’s Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (100).
This meant that women were awarded the same rate of pay as men – no matter what work they were doing, as long as it was assessed as comparable in value. New South Wales (NSW) was the first Australian industrial jurisdiction to legislate for equal pay in the Female Rates (Amendment) Act in 1958. In 2000, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission created Australia’s first Equal Remuneration Principle (ERP). The principle provides an avenue for unions to seek redress where they believe work has been undervalued on a gender basis. In 2002, the Full Bench of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission fully ratified the Crown Employees (Librarians, Library Assistants, Library Technicians and Archivists) Award 2002, which incorporated pay increases of up to 26%. The Commonwealth Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 was enacted to improve equity in the Australian workforce and establish the Affirmative Action Agency.
It aimed to promote equal opportunity for women in employment and eliminate discrimination by the employer against women. In 1999 the agency was changed to the Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Agency to administer the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Commonwealth). In 2009 an Australian House of Representatives Pay Equity Report called on the Commonwealth Government to elevate pay equity to be a clear objective of modern awards and recommended the establishment of a federal Pay Equity Unit and the conducting of mandatory pay equity audits for companies with 100 employees or more.
Western Australia has the largest gender pay gap of any state or territory in Australia. As of August 2010 it was 24 per cent, representing a gap between average weekly ordinary time male and female earnings. Research has failed to adequately account for all the factors that underpin Western Australia’s relatively large gender pay gap and thus explain why its gender pay gap is higher than the rest of Australia, which was 17 per cent in August 2010. A specialist Pay Equity Unit in Western Australian was established in 2006 to address the State’s gender pay gap.
The Western Australian Pay Equity team in the Department of Commerce developed the WA Pay Equity Audit Tool, a resource for employers to use in assessing workforce data and assist in the development of strategies to improve pay equity and female career progression in the workplace. The Tool was adopted nationally by the Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Agency.
Income and wealth inequality, how is Australia faring?
Australians like to think of themselves as egalitarian, and for much of our history we believed our income and wealth was spread around evenly.
The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, Peter Whiteford investigates what has happened to income and wealth inequality in Australia in recent times.
Australians like to think of themselves as egalitarian, and for much of our history we believed our income and wealth was spread around evenly. For many years, the world also shared that view. As early as the 1880s, visitors remarked on Australia’s relatively equal distribution of wealth, the lack of visible poverty, the country’s generally comfortable incomes and its relatively few millionaires. As late as 1967, prime minister Harold Holt could say that he knew of no other free country where “what is produced by the community is more fairly and evenly distributed among the community” than it was in Australia. From the 1980s onwards, however, this view of Australia came under scrutiny.
As historian John Hirst wrote: ‘Egalitarianism – see under myths’: so runs the index entry in a standard sociological text on Australian society. The most common measure of inequality is the Gini coefficient, which varies between zero and one. If everyone had exactly the same income then it would be zero (perfect equality). If one household had all the income then it would be one (complete inequality). The most recent figures for OECD countries, from around 2010, show that Australia is the 11th most unequalof the 34 OECD members. Australia has only ever briefly been below the OECD average Gini coefficient: just as the mining boom started in 2003. Trends in income inequality
Working out what has happened to inequality in Australia over the long term is complex. While there is disagreement about overall trends, according to economists Andrew Leigh and Tony Atkinson, inequality declined between the 1950s and the late 1970s, with Peter Saunders identifying an increase in the 1980s. These long-run estimates are usually based either on wage trends or income tax data, which means that findings apply to individuals rather than households. Household incomes after benefits and taxes, however, are generally regarded as a better measure of economic resources.
Since the early 1980s, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has conducted regular high-quality surveys of household incomes. The most recent survey covers the 2011-12 year. Research by economists David Johnson and Roger Wilkins found that the Gini coefficient increased from around 0.27 in 1981–82 to around 0.30 in 1997-98. Subsequently, the official ABS income statistics show that the Gini coefficient increased to 0.34 just before the global financial crisis in 2008, then fell to 0.32 in 2011-12.
The ABS points out that changes from year to year are sometimes not large enough to be statistically significant. Yet the cumulative picture is of an upward trend, punctuated with periods in which inequality has fallen. Whether the most recent fall continues or is reversed remains to be seen.
Trends in wealth inequality
For many years, statistics on the distribution of wealth were even sparser than comprehensive statistics on the distribution of income. The improvements in income statistics achieved by the ABS were more recently matched by the collection of information on wealth – or more precisely on “net worth” (assets minus liabilities). According to the ABS, the wealthiest 20% of Australian households, with an average net worth of A$2.2 million per household in 2011-12, accounted for 61% of total household net worth. The poorest 20% of households accounted for 1% of total household net worth, and had an average net worth of $31,000 per household. This means that the wealthiest 20% of Australian households had net worth that was 68 times as high as the least wealthy 20%.
In contrast, the 20% of Australian households with the highest disposable income were about five times better off than the poorest 20%. So, it seems pretty clear that wealth is much more unequally distributed in Australia than income. Or is it? This depends on how you look at it. The most recent Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, prepared by Anthony Shorrocks, one of the most highly respected world experts on wealth distribution, estimates that the distribution of wealth in Australia is the second least unequal (after Japan) of 27 major countries and the 12th least unequal of 174 countries. It is also notable that the Credit Suisse report finds that Australia has the second highest average level of wealth in the world and the highest median wealth. The ABS survey – used by Credit Suisse – also presents two ways of looking at the distribution of wealth: first, by ranking households simply by the amount of wealth they have; second, by ranking households by how much income they have. When the ABS ranks households by their incomes, the 20% with the lowest incomes have an average net worth of around $437,000, while the 20% with the highest incomes have about $1.3 million in net worth.
This means that the poorest one-fifth of households, measured by income, hold 12% of net wealth, while the richest one-fifth hold 36%, a ratio of about 3 to 1. These figures suggest that wealth is actually more equally distributed than income when the joint distribution of income and wealth is used – which is a more comprehensive measure of total household resources. These two approaches yield remarkably different pictures of wealth distribution. This reflects the fact that people accumulate wealth over the course of their life. Young people starting off in their first job generally don’t have much in the way of wealth, but as they grow older they will purchase homes – which have been the great wealth “equaliser” in Australia – and accumulate superannuation and other savings. As a result, older people have much higher average wealth than younger people, but older people generally have lower incomes than younger people.
So, why did we think that income was equally shared in Australia if it wasn’t? The answer is that most of the earlier studies were based on a limited income measure: usually wages before tax and usually full-time wagesfor men. In the past, Australia’s wage-fixing system compressed the wage distribution. As late as 1999, Australia had the highest minimum wage relative to the median in the OECD. If you are a full-time employed male wage earner in Australia, then you have a lower level of income inequality than in Denmark, otherwise one of the lowest inequality countries. The most important source of inequality in Australia is whether you have a job or not. So the pillars of egalitarianism in Australia were high wages, high home ownership and low unemployment. If we want to regain this position, we need to ensure that unemployment remains low and that low-income earners are able to buy into affordable housing.
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Agency. The Pay Equity Audit Tool.