Limited impact of Equal Opportunity for Women in the
The prior legislation required employers to develop and
implement programs in the workplace to achieve equality for women.
Employers had to report annually to the Equal Opportunity for Women
Agency on the programs developed and implemented.
The prior legislation had limited impact on achieving gender
equality in the workplace given its limited application and
Introduction of new gender equality
The Act broadens the scope of the prior legislation and promotes
the achievement of gender equality for both men and women in the
workplace. Employers will now be required to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency
on new "gender equality indicators", as opposed to being
limited to reporting on the development and implementation of
Gender equality indicators under the Act include:
gender composition of the workforce
gender composition of the employer's governing body
equal remuneration of men and women in the workforce
consultation with employees on issues concerning gender
equality in the workplace
availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and
practices relating to flexible working arrangements and working
arrangements to support employees with family or carer
The key objectives of the Act are to promote and improve gender
equality in the workplace. Achieving equal remuneration and support
for family and caring responsibilities are emphasised as being
central to improving the workforce participation of women.
Phased implementation of reporting
The new reporting obligations to achieve the objectives of the
Act will be implemented gradually over the next few years. The Act
will continue to apply to higher education institutions and
non-government employers with 100 or more employers.
For the 2013 reporting period employers with 100 or more
employees will continue to report in accordance with the
requirements of the prior legislation. However, employers will also
be required to comply with new notification and access requirements
in their annual reporting. Of importance is that employers may be
required to disclose their annual report to employees, unions and
In the 2014 reporting process, employers will be required to
report on new standardised gender equality indicators. It is
expected that the minimum standards will be developed through
consultation with stakeholders before 1 April 2014.
Then in the 2015 reporting period, employers will be required
to meet minimum standards for gender equality indicators. As a
result, employers will be open to public scrutiny of their
workforce composition and their gender equality policies and
Elizabeth Broderick, the Australian Human Rights Commission and
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, views the Act as a significant
step towards improving women's participation in the workforce.
Although the Act on its own will not be sufficient to achieve
gender equality, it will require organisations to compile data and
review their corporate culture.
Bill to expand right to request flexible working
A Bill to amend the
Fair Work Act 2009, the Fair Work
Amendment (Better Work/Life Balance) Act 2012 (the Bill)
is under consideration. Currently the Fair Work Act
provides parents or carers of under school aged children (or a
disabled child under 18 years) the right to request flexible
working arrangements. The Bill would expand the right to request
flexible working arrangements to a broader range of carers and to
parents, not subject to the current limitations. If passed into
legislation the Bill could, in conjunction with the Act, assist
towards the achievement of gender equality in the workplace.
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).