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Australia – Gender Equality Reporting Legislation Passes Senate.

29 November, 2012

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Australia – Labour & Employment

 

In brief

 

  • In our Employment Alert dated 13 August 2012 we reported on the proposed changes to equal employment opportunity reporting requirements for employers.
  • The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Act 2012 was passed in the Senate on 22 November 2012 and is now awaiting royal assent.
  • The current Act, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth), will become the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and transitional changes will apply to employers due to report in the current reporting year.

 

Key changes for employers

 

The reporting requirements will continue to apply to non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees (or with 80 or more employees if the organisation has previously reported). There will no longer be an exemption for employers with demonstrated achievement.

 

1. The current requirement to develop and report on a “workplace program” in relation to specified employment matters is removed and replaced with a requirement to provide information in relation to the new gender equality indicators. Significantly, employers will need to provide information on the following gender equality indicators:

 

  • gender composition of the workforce;
  • gender composition of governing bodies (including boards of directors and committees of management);
  • equal remuneration between women and men; and
  • the availability of flexible working arrangements and arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities.

 

2. The rebadged Workplace Gender Equality Agency will be able to publish employer reports, including on its website.

 

3. Employers must provide access to reports to shareholders and employees and notify relevant unions of the report.

 

4. Over the next two years the Minister will set industry-specific minimum standards in relation to the gender equality indicators.

 

5. A failure by an employer to improve against minimum standards over two reporting periods can be a failure to comply with the Act. Consequences for non-compliance include public naming and potential restrictions on eligibility for Commonwealth grants or contracts.

 

Transition

 

Reporting period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013:

 

  • Employers are to lodge a report which sets out the employer’s “workplace profile” only. Access must be provided to employees and shareholders and unions are to be notified.
  • Consequences for non-compliance will commence from this reporting period. 

 

Reporting period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014:

 

  • Employers are to report on the gender equality indicators, but minimum standards will not yet apply.

 

Reporting period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015:

 

  • Employers must report on the gender equality indicators and comply with minimum standards. The full consequences of non-compliance with the new Act will be applicable.

 

Next steps

 

A number of our clients have expressed public support for this legislation, recognising that it is attempting to address longstanding issues concerning gender equity.

 

Getting the reporting requirements right, and making progress on each of the gender equality indicators in a systemic way, is the next step for employers who are considering their compliance obligations.

  

 

For further information, please contact:

 
Michael Tamvakologos, Partner, Ashurst

 

 

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