- About pay equity
- Key Publications
- The Pay Equity Roundtable
- Small business
- Unpaid work and the Australian economy
There is still a considerable pay gap between the working men and women of Australia, and over the last four quarters (from November 2007 to August 2008) that pay gap has widened by .70 of a percentage point.
In August 2008, the gender pay gap for full-time adult ordinary time female employees was 16.7 per cent, while in May 2008, the gender pay gap for full-time adult ordinary time female employees was 16.5 per cent. This was an increase in the gender pay gap from February 2008, where the gap was 16.1 per cent. In November 2007, the gender pay gap was 16.0 per cent.
Many reasons contribute to the inequality in earnings between men and women overall.
- Women’s responsibility for unpaid caring and work
It is generally acknowledged that a key reason for the gender pay gap is that women are generally primary carers for young children and dependent adults. Women also continue to bear the major responsibility for unpaid domestic work.1 This means that women bear a double burden, work and caring, that impedes their workforce engagement.
- More women work part-time in a long hours culture
Women frequently seek work that allows them time to accommodate their unpaid and caring responsibilities. Part-time and casual employment is a particular feature of Australian women's involvement in the workforce. Increased workforce flexibility has supported an increase in part-time and casual work, which is dominated by women.
- Occupation and industry segregation and undervaluation of women’s work
Women and men are segregated in the labour market, with the majority of women, engaging in a narrow range of occupations traditionally considered suitable for women, for example - nurse, teacher, child care worker.
- Women have less access to overtime and over-award payments
Women workers receive a significantly lower level of discretionary payments, particularly over-award and bonus payments, than do men. Such payments may also include profit sharing, service increments and commissions. This is largely because women tend to be concentrated in jobs with less access to a range of over-award payments and bonuses and in industries where over-award payments are not traditionally offered.
- Sex discrimination and sexual harassment
Sex discrimination and sexual harassment can affect any employee. However, the evidence indicates that sex discrimination and sexual harassment affect women more than men. There were 472 complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission (then known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 in 2006–07, of which almost 90 per cent came from women.
The generation of women who are entering the workforce today continues to face a career of lower earnings. In 2007, male graduates commenced employment on a median salary of $45,000 per year while female graduates started work on about $3,000 per year less.
In 2008, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (http://www.eowa.gov.au/) released a gender income distribution of top earners report on pay disparity at senior levels of the top 200 companies of the Australian Stock Exchange.
Female CEOs earn two thirds of the median wage of male CEOs and female chief financial officers and chief operating officers earn just half the median wage of their male equivalent.
*Figures cited are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that publishes a wide range of statistics on the labour force. The ABS classifications, terminology and definitions are the most commonly cited sources by Australian labour commentators.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, How Australians Use Their Time, 2006, cat. no. 4153.0, ABS, Canberra, 2007.
Key publications which feature women, workforce participation and pay equity information include:
Labour Force (Australia) cat. no. 6202.0
Monthly – This publication collects data on employment, unemployment, the unemployment rate and labour force participation for men and women. It is the benchmark publication used in Australia for employment data.
Labour Market (Australia) cat. no. 6105.0
Quarterly – January, April, July, October
“Compendium” publication of all labour statistics: employment, unemployment, underutilised labour, earnings, labour costs and international comparisons. Data is disaggregated by sex. Publication also contains special articles focusing on different aspects of the labour market each quarter.
Average Weekly Earnings (Austalia) cat. no. 6302.0
The AWE publication is released quarterly – February, May, August and November.
The publication includes data on average weekly ordinary time earnings and average weekly total earnings for full-time adult employees and average weekly total earnings for all employees, classified by sector and state or territory and by industry at the Australian level, for males, females and persons. The AWE is the most commonly used and referred to publication for differences in pay between men and women.
Employee Earnings and Hours (EEH) cat. no. 6306.0
Bi-annual - The most recent EEH is for 2006. The next issue is expected to be released late 2008 to early 2009. The EEH covers methods of setting pay, average weekly total cash earnings and hours paid for managerial and non-managerial employees. Data is disaggregated by sex.
Office for Women’s submission to the Inquiry into pay equiry and associated issues related to increasing female participation in the workforce. (http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ewr/payequity/subs/sub112.pdf)
On 30 July 2008 the Office for Women (OfW) hosted its second roundtable on gender pay equity. The Roundtable was attended by representatives from academia, National Women’s Secretariats, State and Federal government departments and unions. It followed OfW’s first pay equity roundtable, which was held at Parliament House on 30 April 2008. The former Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Tanya Plibersek, attended the first roundtable.
A key focus of the roundtables was to map the work currently being undertaken across the states and territories on pay equity, and to reach agreement on the barriers to and strategies around reducing pay inequity.
Recommendations from the two roundtables fed into the Office for Women’s submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into pay equity and associated issues.
Since the mid-1990s, women have comprised around one-third of all small business operators. In 2006, 32 per cent of small businesses in Australia were run by women. (Latest available data).
Women business operators are less likely to work as tradespersons or managers and much more likely operate clerical and service related businesses. Women operators are also more likely to work part-time and are less likely to export than their male counterparts. In 2007, 83% of male business operators worked full-time hours in their business compared to 46% of female business operators.
Despite over 60 years of female labour force participation, the current status of the division of labour in Australia is that regardless of employment status, age, and marital and/or parental status, women continue to spend more time in unpaid domestic work, childcare and voluntary work than men.
Time use studies provide the most accurate estimates of the time spent in unpaid work. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has conducted four national Time Use Surveys. The most recent survey was conducted in 2006.1
The results of the 2006 survey showed that gender inequalities in unpaid work in Australia persisted in 2006 and the extent of the inequalities has changed very little over time. In 2006, women spent an average of two hours and 52 minutes per day engaged in domestic activities, compared to an average of one hour and 37 minutes for men. Women spent nearly three times the amount of time men spent in childcare activities (59 minutes per day for women and 22 minutes per day for men). Since 1997, women have decreased the time spent in domestic activities by eight minutes per day, whereas the average time men spent in those tasks did not change over the nine year period. Compared to 1997, both men and women in 2006 spent more time with their children, although the increased time commitment to childcare was greater for women (14 minutes per day) than for men (six minutes per day). Even when both men and women worked full-time, women spent an average of 46 minutes per day more than men in domestic activities.
Women’s unpaid work has significant consequences for their economic security and independence. Time spent in unpaid work is negatively correlated with time spent in paid work and with women’s earnings.2 The ABS estimated that the gross opportunity cost of unpaid work in 1997 – what household members would have earned in gross wages had they spent the same time on paid work as unpaid work was $204 billion for women, nearly twice the foregone earnings of $104 billion for men.3
Results from recent research by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency showed thatnearly a third of working women stated that if their partners undertook a greater share of domestic duties, they would work more hours in paid employment.4
- ABS (2007). How Australians Use Their Time, 2006, Cat. No. 4153.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- For a Review, see It’s About Time! Women, Men, Unpaid Work, Leisure and Wellbeing. Unpublished Time Use Fellowships Monograph, 2003-04.
- ABS (1997). Unpaid Work and The Australian Economy, 1997, Cat. No. 5240.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- EOWA (2008). Generation F: Attract, Engage, Retain. North Sydney: Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency.