As we mentioned in our previous
Legal Insight, the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012
(Cth) (WGE Act) has now replaced the Equal Opportunity for
Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth) and established the
Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). The role of the WGEA is to
ensure that employers regulated by the new legislation comply with
The WGE Act imposes annual reporting standards for private
sector employers that employ 100 employees or more and is focused
on "promoting and improving gender equality and outcomes for
both women and men in the workplace."
Employers affected by the WGA Act are required to submit their
reports for the 2013–2014 reporting period to the WGEA
between 1 April 2014 and 31 May 2014. The 2013–2014 reporting
period is the 12 month period ending 31 March 2014.
These due dates are fast approaching and affected employers
should be preparing to comply with these reporting obligations.
What are Your Obligations Under the WGE Act?
Under the WGE Act, affected employers are required to complete
an annual workplace profile and report information relating to six
standardised gender equality indicators (GEIs).
The workplace profile is designed to show the composition of an
organisation's workforce by collecting information on:
employment status (full-time/part-time and
classification of managers and non-managers based on
standardised occupational categories
managers' reporting level to the CEO
remuneration for managers and non-managers.
In addition to completing a workplace profile, affected
employers are required to report information against the following
gender composition of the workforce
gender composition of governing bodies of relevant
equal remuneration between women and men
availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and
practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees
and to working arrangements supporting employees with family or
consultation with employees on issues concerning gender
equality in the workplace
sex based harassment and discrimination.
These GEIs will soon transition in to a number of 'minimum
standards' to be set annually by the Minister for the Status of
Women in consultation with the WGEA. The 'minimum
standards' will apply from the 2014 - 2015 reporting period
Notification and Access Requirements
The WGE Act also contains notification and access obligations
with respect to WGE Act reports. As a result, affected employers
will need to notify employees, members or shareholders as soon as
practicable that the report has been publically lodged and provide
them with access to the report. Further, employee organisations
that have members in the workplace (ie trade unions) must be
notified that the report has been lodged within seven days of the
Affected employers must also provide employees and employee
organisations with members in its workplace with an opportunity to
comment on the report. Any comments made to the WGEA by an employee
or employee organisation may be used to determine whether a
relevant employer has been compliant with the WGE Act.
Complying with the WGE Act and Your Reporting Obligations for
In order to achieve WGE Act compliance an affected employer must
lodges a properly completed report, signed by its CEO, before
31 May 2014
complies with the notification and access requirements
following lodgement of the report
provides the WGEA with further information when asked to do
provides accurate and truthful information in the report and to
the WGEA, if required.
Employers that fail to take these necessary steps are likely to
be in breach of the WGE Act and face penalties including being:
publicly named on the WGEA website
reported to the Minister
precluded from tendering for state or commonwealth procurement
precluded from receiving financial assistance from the
Importantly, employers should also be aware the WGE Act does not
affect the operation of existing legislation. Employers who
unlawfully discriminate against employees on the basis of gender
may be subject to financial penalties under the Fair Work Act 2009
(Cth) or ordered to pay compensation under the Sex Discrimination
Act 1984 (Cth) or applicable state legislation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
K&L Gates has been awarded a 2012 EOWA Employer of Choice
for Women citation acknowledging our commitment to workplace
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Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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