Gender pay gap remains above 20 per cent

Australian men are still being paid 20 per cent more than women on average, research shows.
Australian men are still being paid 20 per cent more than women on average, research shows.

Men take home $25,534 a year more than women on average despite a slight decrease in the gender pay gap.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency's annual scorecard shows the difference in pay remains above 20 per cent after falling 0.7 points in 2019/20.

The gap continues to trend down from 23.1 per cent in 2015/16.

The agency's director Libby Lyons said there had been a worrying 6.1 percentage point drop in employers taking action on closing pay gaps.

Just over half of all employers who completed a gender pay gap analysis took action.

"This trend must not continue," Ms Lyons wrote in the report.

"Experience tells us that when employers measure their data, identify their problem areas and take action to address it, the pay gap closes."

Progress remains slow on women being appointed to the top levels of organisations.

Female chief executives increased slightly to 18.3 per cent from 17.1 per cent, while women board representatives rose at a similar rate to 28.1 per cent.

Almost one in four managers are women, and 44.7 per cent of appointments in the past financial year were female.

Ms Lyons said Australia's economic recovery depended on utilising the skills and experience of a diverse, gender-balanced workforce.

"Women and men must have an equal opportunity to re-engage and participate in the workforce," she said.

"Employers have an important role to play to make this happen by ensuring the momentum towards gender equality is sustained. It is good for business and integral to our economic recovery."

For the first time since the data was collected seven years ago, more than half of employers now offer paid primary carer's leave.

Policies or strategies for flexible working grew steadily, up more than three percentage points to 75.9 per cent of employers.

But just 2.2 per cent had set targets for men's engagement in flexible work.

Women continue to dominate part-time (75.1 per cent) and casual roles (56.3 per cent), while only 38.1 per cent of full-time employees are female.

Family violence policies increased in Australian workplaces with two-thirds having a strategy in place.

Domestic violence leave is now offered by 35.5 per cent of employers, up 5.2 points from the previous year.

Next year's data is expected to capture the full impact of coronavirus on workplace equality.

Australian Associated Press