The Federal Government has announced a new Minimum Standard which will apply to businesses with more than 500 employees but it will continue to consult on additional reporting matters under the Workplace Gender Equality Act (WGE Act). Reporting requirements for businesses with more than 100 employees remained unchanged from April 4, settling a period of uncertainty for business. The standard for organisations with more than 500 employees will apply from October 1, 2014. It requires employers to put in place one or more strategies to: support and improve gender equality in the workplace; advance equal remuneration between male and female employees; implement flexible work arrangements for employees with caring responsibilities; or prevent sex-based harassment and discrimination. A joint statement by employment minister Senator Eric Abetz and minister assisting the PM for women Senator Michaelia Cash said the Govt “will continue to work with industry and peak bodies to streamline the reporting detail within the established framework over the next six months to ensure gender reporting actually drives results in the workplace”. It will announce the results of the consultations later this year, in time for the next reporting period from April 1, 2015. “We want to make sure that we get this right and do not force new, onerous requirements that do not achieve the stated objectives,” they said. “It is vital we collect effective data, rather than just more data without consideration of whether it will achieve any real results.”
Comment: The Govt has bowed to the inevitable. After months of confused signals (DA#442) it has appreciated it had waited too long to change the reporting framework for this year. Not only had nearly all reporting organisations prepared themselves for it already but there was widespread corporate and political support for them. Chalk this down as a win for the WGE Agency.
(Discrimination Alert#443, 10/04/2014)