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Equal Pay

In Finance, women earn on average just 71% of men’s earnings. If you’d like to stay informed about our campaign to close the gap, please click here to register your details.


Would you think it was fair to give your daughter less pocket money than your son, just ‘cause she’s a girl?

Not only is this unfair, but for all workers, it’s illegal to pay men and women different rates for doing the same work or work of equal value.

Two cases – in the Arbitration and Conciliation Commission in 1969 and 1972 – granted women the same minimum wage as men and “equal pay for work of equal value”.

Why then does the FSU keep talking about Equal Pay?

It’s not just us – all Unions are concerned about this issue with the average industry gender pay gap at around 17%.

In Finance, it’s much worse: on average, women earn just 71% of men’s earnings – a 29% pay gap.

We cannot let this continue – we must close the gap.

If equal pay is a legal entitlement, how come there’s still a pay gap?

No one is deliberately paying men more than women.  The pay gap largely exists because of some factors which are peculiar to the finance sector – both in Australia and overseas.  These include:

  • Market and performance-based pay.
  • Women and men work in jobs which are valued differently; for example, male-dominated ‘sales’ jobs earn higher commissions and bonuses than female-dominated ‘service’ jobs.
  • The way in which jobs are valued in finance is unfair; there is no objective way of comparing or classifying jobs.
  • Far more women than men work part-time or return to more ‘family friendly’ but lower paid, part-time jobs, from parental leave.
  • Part-timers have less access to training and career path opportunities.
  • Men often negotiate higher start rates on entering the industry.
  • A large amount of unpaid overtime is worked in understaffed retail banking – which is vastly dominated by women.
  • Old-fashioned and inflexible job design.
  • Lack of take-up of diversity or flexible work provisions (even though these exist in policy!)

The great irony of course is that the highest gender pay gap exists amongst the richest employers in the country.
What can the FSU do?

In 2006, most of the key industry employers attended a Pay Equity Symposium sponsored by FSU.  Everyone of course agreed that we need to fix the gender pay gap.

FSU and NAB worked on a land-mark gender pay audit and several enterprise agreements provide for audits in other finance sector companies.

However, this work is very slow: it relies on pay equity being a priority, on cooperation and on a number of resources.  Long term, we require a review of finance sector jobs, working conditions and pay.

What can we do legally?

Some time this year Fair Work Australia will hear an equal pay case on behalf of Social Workers and others.  The case will be a ‘test’ of improved equal remuneration provisions in the new Fair Work Act.  The case will consider the undervaluation of caring jobs in the social welfare sector – jobs which are largely held by women.

The case could take several years and any pay increases would be phased in over time.

FSU will consider:

  • Which jobs could be used for a future equal pay case in our industry?
  • How can we stem the flow of market based pay and insist on fair, across the board pay increases for staff?
  • Increasing provisions through enterprise agreements – including access to flexible work provisions and stronger rights when an employer refuses a request for flexible work.

What else can be done?

  • FSU continues to work on enforcing paid overtime provisions, improving understaffing and monitoring workloads; in retail banking, these problems hold women back from accessing vocational training and promotion.
  • You can do your bit by saying no to unpaid overtime.
  • FSU plans to conduct a diversity audit in the industry – to make sure flexible work and diversity policies are actually working in practice.

You can start by asking your employer for a copy of their flexible work, equal opportunity or diversity policies.  Read them and see how they can assist you and your family.

Talk about equal pay in the workplace and encourage your colleagues to take advantage of flexible work provisions – these are a right, not a privilege.   You should also try and encourage as many men as women to think about their working hours, parental leave and flexible work options- there should be no stigma about sharing work and family responsibilities and accessing work and family conditions.

FSU is calling on the Government to implement mandatory pay equity audits in all companies.  We’d also like to see a Pay Equity Unit set up in Fair Work Australia, and education around the gender pay gap.

Want to have your say?

Click here to register your interest and support.

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