From late 2023, new changes will come into effect for employers with 100+ employees regarding compulsory reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). Importantly, from early 2024, gender pay gaps for relevant employers will be published. Previously, this data was published for industry sectors only, rather than individual employers.
When is a business required to report to the WGEA?
A business that is a ‘relevant employer’ as defined under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth) (the Act) is required to report to the WGEA. This Act requires various employers (relevant employers) to lodge reports each year containing information relating to various gender equality indicators (for example, equal remuneration between women and men).
Section 4 of the Act defines a ‘relevant employer’ (subject to some exemptions) as:
“(1) A relevant employer means:
(a) a registered higher education provider that is an employer; or
(b) a natural person, or a body or association (whether incorporated or not), that is an employer of 100 or more employees in Australia; or
(c) a Commonwealth company that is an employer of 100 or more employees in Australia; or
(d) a Commonwealth entity that is an employer of 100 or more employees in Australia.”
This means relevant employers are required to register for the Gender Equality Reporting program and submit data to the WGEA annually.
How does a relevant employer report to WGEA?
A full guide to Gender Equality Reporting can be found here.
The relevant employer reports using the online Employer Portal.
The annual reporting submission consists of:
- an online questionnaire related to your organisation’s policies, strategies, and actions on gender equality; and
- two excel worksheets designed to collect information about workforce composition; salaries and remuneration; and employee appointments, promotions, resignations, and parental leave.
Relevant Employers need to ensure their submissions are made in the WGEA Portal during the relevant two-month submission period, which is from 1 April to 31 May. Accordingly, relevant employers can attend to this reporting, by registering here.
How does a relevant employer report to WGEA?
To comply with the Act, a relevant employer will need to:
- submit an annual report with all mandatory data before the submission deadline;
- have their CEO or Agency/Department head (or equivalent) review and approve the submission;
- provide information to review an employer compliance if the WGEA asks;
- not include anything false or misleading in the report or in the extra compliance information WGEA requests; and
- comply with notification and access requirements.
The WGEA then issues compliance certificates to confirm that an employer is compliant with its obligations under the Act for a particular reporting year.
If the relevant employer has not / does not comply with their obligations under the Act, then the Act outlines consequences for non-compliance. They are not financial consequences/penalties, but they involve the following:
- the WGEA can name an employer in a report to the Minister that is tabled in both Houses of Parliament;
- the WGEA can name an employer publicly by electronic or other means; and/or
- an employer may not be eligible to tender for contracts under Commonwealth and some state procurement frameworks and may not be eligible for some Commonwealth grants or other financial help.
The WGEA website indicates that if an employer is notified of non-compliance, they can submit a late compliance report via the employer Portal to be issued with a compliance certificate.
What is changing from late 2023-2024?
On 30 March 2023, the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 was passed in parliament which makes amendments to the Act. This bill was in response to the 2021 review of the Act, which concluded that the gender pay gap in Australia was not closing at a rate that was fast enough.
To outline the upcoming changes, the WGEA has created roadmap, which can be found here.
In summary, from April 2024 it will be mandatory for relevant employers to report data on:
- employee age (year of birth);
- primary workplace location;
- CEO and casual manager remuneration; and
- sex-based harassment, harassment on the ground of sex or discrimination.
For some of the above items, some businesses may wish to voluntarily start reporting these items in 2023.
Later this year in 2023 (note: date yet to be fixed), it is also a new requirement that relevant employers must also share their ‘WGEA Executive Summary Report’ and ‘Industry Benchmark Report’ with their Board.
Then, from early 2024, gender pay gap information for private sector relevant employers will be publicly reported on the WGEA website (with Commonwealth public sector gender pay gaps published from late 2024 – early 2025).
What should employers do if they require advice?
If your business requires further guidance or specific legal advice, please contact us.