Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Equal Pay Day – Gillard Government working to close gender pay gap

This year, 2 September is not just a celebration of the role fathers and partners play in our lives – it is also Equal Pay Day.

The date of Equal Pay Day is calculated on the average number of extra days a woman would have to work until she earns the same amount as men do in a financial year.

The Minister for Community Services and the Status of Women, Julie Collins, said Equal Pay Day reminds us all of the seriousness and persistence of gender pay inequity, which currently sits at 17.5 per cent in Australia.

“Equal Pay Day is a reminder that on average Australian women will work an extra 64 days to earn what a man would in a year.

“The Gillard Government is committed to closing this gender pay gap.

“Equality is at the heart of the Australian Government’s commitment to building a strong economy on the back of a fair and just society.

“That’s why we supported the Fair Work Australia case that is delivering from 1 December substantial pay rises of between 23 and 45 per cent to 150,000 of Australia’s lowest paid workers – significantly around 120,000 of these workers are women.

“It was this Labor Government who allowed the case to be brought to the independent umpire through our introduction of the Fair Work Act and we are committed to meeting our share of the costs associated with the historic decision.

“That’s a commitment of around $3 billion – and this Labor Government will continue to support this increase at every step of the way as it is phased in.

“We have also introduced major reforms on equal opportunity in the workplace, which set out a contemporary response to the challenges women face today.

“These reforms in the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 focus on equal pay – recognising that closing the gender pay gap is central to achieving equality.

“The Government is looking forward to the passage of the legislation through the Senate as soon as possible, ensuring genuine and sustained progress towards gender equality,” Ms Collins said.

“The new Act also highlights shared caring responsibilities as an issue central to the achievement of gender equality.

“Research shows that men want to help more with caring responsibilities, particularly with children, but are limited by barriers including “family bread-winner” responsibilities, and inflexible workplaces.

“The Australian Government recognises that more equal sharing of paid work and care enables greater workforce participation for women, improving women’s capacity to provide for themselves and their families and to save for a financially secure retirement.

“It means also that men can spend more time with their children and celebrate being a father every day.

“The Australian Government has introduced a number of practical supports and initiatives to support women and men balance paid work and caring and to make progress towards gender equality.

“The introduction of the historic Paid Parental Leave Scheme gives eligible working parents up to 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave at the rate of the national minimum wage, currently around $606 a week or $10,917 for 18 weeks before tax.

“From 1 January 2013, Dad and Partner Pay will give eligible fathers and partners two weeks’ pay at the rate of the national minimum wage.

“A dedicated payment for fathers and partners will encourage their involvement and send a strong signal that taking leave to care for children is part of the normal course of work and family life for both parents.

“We have strengthened protections against discrimination by amending the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to make it unlawful to discriminate on the ground of family responsibilities for both women and men.

“Women and men also need opportunities to make genuine choices about their participation in the economy, community and at home.”