The Workplace Gender Equality Agency would be called in to audit the gender pay gap across the Australian Public Service if Labor were to win government, Labor leader Anthony Albanese has pledged as part of the party's gender pay-gap policy.
Private companies would also be required to report their gender pay gap publicly under the policy, a move which Labor says has led to the pay gap closing in countries where the policy has already been introduced.
Companies are already required to report their gender pay - the difference between the average salary for men and the average salary for women - to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, but that data is not made public and only used to contribute to sector-wide reporting.
"The Commonwealth cannot ask the private sector to do something without showing leadership ourselves, and under a Labor government, we would have an audit across all of the departments of the Australian public service, using the workplace gender equality agencies tools in the first year to identify exactly where these issues are," Mr Albanese said of the public service audit.
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australia's gender pay gap is 13.4 per cent, with the average male full-time weekly wage $1804.20 and the average female full-time weekly wage $1562.00.
Under the Labor plan, the public reporting would be introduced gradually over four years, first affecting companies with 1000 or more employees, until eventually companies with 250 or more employees would be required to report, both across managerial and non managerial positions.
Mr Albanese did not say companies with wider gender pay gaps would face government penalties, but that the publicity itself would ensure change.
"The first step is accountability and transparency. If you had that, what you would have his pressure on the companies to do something about it," he said.
The gender pay gap in the public service is generally considered to be lower than in the private sector, due to the more strict conditions on salaries linked to specific bands.
According to the Australian Public Service Commission's remuneration report for 2019, the most recent data available, the gender pay gap across the public service is 7.3 per cent, a drop from 7.8 per cent the year before.
"Increased female representation at senior classifications has supported this change," the remuneration report said.
While a major contributor to that gap is the higher proportion of women in lower paid bands, and more men in higher paid bands, the Commission did identify a gap between male and female median base salaries at the same classification, of less than one per cent.
In announcing the gender pay gap policy on Monday, International Women's Day, Mr Albanese said Labor would outlaw pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts and "strengthen the ability and the capacity of the Fair Work Commission, to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female dominated industries".
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