Release type: Joint Media Release


New national group to help close the gender pay gap


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

A new national consultative group will examine how to manage the implications of the Social and Community Sector equal pay test case, which is currently before Fair Work Australia, Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans announced today.

“The Gillard Government is serious about equal pay and this is the next important step in closing the gender pay gap in Australia,” Senator Evans said.

“The ‘Community Sector Wages Group’ will see employers, unions and the federal, state and territory governments working together to assess the potential implications of pay increases which can result from the test case being brought by the Australian Services’ Union and others.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations, Senator Jacinta Collins, said the Government was keen to work with community services stakeholders on the complex funding arrangements in the sector.

“Women shouldn’t be paid on average 17 per cent less than men in 2011 – and that’s why the Gillard Government has put in place fair work laws that allow cases like this to be heard by the independent umpire,” Senator Collins said.

“The independent umpire will make the final decision but the fair work laws make this case possible.

“The community services sector employs the majority of workers who could be affected by this case so it is crucial we work together to ensure a sustainable and effective sector. The Gillard Government wants to achieve a fair outcome for these workers.”

Senator Collins will chair the group, which will have representatives from ACOSS, the social and community sector, the ASU and other unions and state and territory governments.

The Government will lodge its final submission today with hearings on April 11 and 12.

“The Government’s submission reflects our determination to address the gender pay gap,” Senator Evans said.

“This is an historic case and the first equal pay claim to be made under the Government’sFair Work Act.

“It is the Labor Government that made this test case possible, by extending equal pay provisions in the Act to include the right of employees to equal pay for work ofequal orcomparable value.”