Businesses will need to review their current gender equality
policies as new legislation has been announced which will have a
major impact on the gender equality reporting requirements of all
businesses with more than 100 employees. The Minister for the
Status of Women, Kate Ellis, has announced significant reforms to
the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth)
('the Act') and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the
Workplace Agency ('EOWA').
What are the changes?
Currently, some businesses are required to report to the EOWA on
their gender equality policies; however they do not need to report
any specific data about their gender equality practices.
The changes will make the reporting requirements much stricter
with all businesses with over 100 employees required to report
The actual figures of gender composition in their workforce and
on their boards;
Their employment conditions; and
Whether they provide flexible work practices for men and
CEOs and employee representatives will be required to sign off
on reports. These reports will also need to be provided to
employees and shareholders.
To ensure that businesses are providing correct information the
EOWA will have power to perform regular spot checks within any
The Act will also be renamed the Workplace Gender Equality
Act and the EOWA will be renamed the Workplace Gender Equality
Agency. The new Act will focus on the importance of pay equity and
the caring responsibilities of both men and women as fundamental to
Who will be affected by the changes?
All businesses in Australia with over 100 employees will need to
comply with the new requirements. No exceptions as to who must
report or waiver of responsibilities are provided under the
proposed legislation. Businesses with fewer than 100 employees do
not need to report under the new legislation; however they are
still able to access the advice and education of the EOWA.
What are the consequences of non-compliance?
Non-compliant organisations will be named in Parliament and more
widely. Failure to fulfill the reporting obligations will mean such
businesses will be ineligible to receive Government funded grants
or access industry assistance. It will also be unlawful for all
Government agencies to trade with non-compliant businesses.
When will the changes come into effect?
The proposed legislation will be developed this year, with the
first reports under the new legislation set to fall due at the
start of 2013. The Government and the EOWA will provide further
information in the coming months.
The new laws come in light of the EOWA's January promise to
"shine a spotlight on businesses who are not achieving gender
equality by strengthening the EOWA and its underlying
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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