Australian Women Must Work an Extra 70 Days to Earn the Same as Men
8 September 2016 at 10:03 am
The 16.2 per cent pay gap between men and women in Australia means that women had to work an extra 70 days to reach the same level of pay as men for the last financial year.
Equal Pay Day falls on 8 September in Australia this year, representing the number of additional days, from the end of the financial year, that women must work for their earnings to catch up to those of men.
The pay gap for Australian women sits at $261.10 per week or $13,577 per year.
In ASX 200 organisations the gender pay gap is at 28.7 per cent and in the sporting industry it reaches 50 per cent. The average superannuation for women at retirement is also 52.8 per cent less than for men.
Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the government body responsible for promoting and improving gender equality, said the day was an important reminder that women’s earning capacity continues to lag behind men’s.
“Women working full-time need to work more than 14 months on average to earn the same as men earn in a year,” Lyons said.
“Over a lifetime, compounded by time out of the workforce due to caring responsibilities, the gender pay gap contributes to greatly reduced lifetime earnings and retirement savings. On average, women retire with just half the superannuation savings of men.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions said the day should serve as a “wake-up call” for Senator Michaelia Cash, minister for both employment and women, about the “unacceptable state” of the gender pay gap.
“Today is about the staggering 16.2 per cent pay gap between men and women in Australia,” ACTU president Ged Kearney said.
“It’s also about the disadvantages women face throughout their working and home lives, ranging from the straight out pay gap in a woman’s first job and on graduating from university through to rampant discrimination after having a baby and not having enough to retire on.
“Unbelievably, Minister Cash and Malcolm Turnbull are also hell bent on keeping the ridiculous cuts to paid parental leave planned by the Abbott Government, further hindering the possibility of equality.
“Pay inequality adds to financial stress for many women and that can lead to vulnerability, debt and homelessness.”
Kearney called on Cash to address pay inequality by implementing the recommendations from the Senate inquiry report, called A Husband is Not a Retirement Plan.
In particular, the ACTU said the government should fund a parental leave scheme of 26 weeks paid at no less than the national minimum wage plus superannuation, provide 15 hours of free early education and care for every child per week for all families and enforce the right to request flexible work arrangements.
“Minister Cash is in the prime position in her role to change women’s lives for the better. We urge her to ensure that the recommendations passed down this year by the Senate Economic References Committee are implemented as a matter of urgency as they directly address this issue,” Kearney said.
“Unions are already meeting with government ministers and cross benchers to advocate for working women and will continue to do so throughout this term of parliament.”
Cash said while some progress had been made towards gender equality, more action was required.
She drew on ABS statistics which show the gender pay gap has narrowed from 18.5 per cent in November 2014 to 16.2 per cent.
“While this is a promising improvement, we have a long way to go – further progress will bring great benefits to both our society and our economy,” Cash said.
“It is particularly heartening that the latest labour force statistics show female employment levels are at an all-time high, with more Australian women in employment than ever before.”
“Getting more women into work is a priority of the Turnbull government and we remain equally focused on ensuring women are entering high paid jobs, leadership positions and non-traditional roles – all of which will ensure the decline in the gender pay gap continues.”
She said the federal government was advancing a number of policies to address the income disparity, including the Jobs for Families Child Care package, the $13 million National Innovation and Science Agenda and boosting the superannuation of women who have taken time out of work.
Cash also called on businesses to take an active role in closing the gender pay gap.
“We also need to address unconscious bias which impacts on gender participation,” she said.
“Businesses should have a clear picture of how their employees are remunerated to ensure they are not unknowingly contributing to the gender pay gap.”