Call For Companies To Be Forced To Reveal Gender Pay Gaps

Gender pay gaps will be made public under a federal Labor government the party announced on Sunday.

The move would require all companies with over 1,000 employees to publicly report on any gender pay gaps within their organisation. This information is already collected by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) but under Labor the information would be published publicly.

"We believe that asking large companies to report on the difference between men and women's wages in their company will focus even more on reducing that gender pay gap," Labor Deputy Leader Tanya Pilbersek told media on Sunday.

"We know that the gender gap is stubbornly high -- it is at around 15 percent and of course it is even higher for women in professional managerial positions or in some industries."

One of those industries is the finance industry according to National Secretary of the Finance Sector Union Julia Angrisano.

"We have heard today that the gender pay gap sits at about 15 percent but across the finance sector it's at a shockingly high 27 percent" Angrisano said on Sunday.

Angrisano said secretive clauses in employees contracts is one of the leading causes for the large pay discrepancy in the industry.

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"In our industry it is actually illegal for workers to share information about their pay -- their contract prohibits that," she said.

"Often our members tell us their experience when they ask their male colleagues what they are getting paid because they know that actually they are getting paid more than them. Their male colleagues share that but ask them not to disclose it," Angrisano said.

"What actually happens next is that information, if it was to be used as pay negotiation, not only would the female worker be asked not to disclosed that further...but the male colleague that shared that information would also be in trouble."

The pay gap in the finance industry stands at a whopping 27 percent. Image: Getty Images.

Unions are hopeful Labor's policy will motivate employers to close the gap for fear of establishing a bad reputation due to paying women less.

Australian Council of Trade Unions President Michele O'Neil said Labor's announcement means people will no longer be punished by their employer if they discuss pay rates.

“Companies will have to be publicly accountable for their performance on gender pay equity," O'Neil told the media on Sunday.

She also said closing the gender pay gap for good would require changes to the industrial laws that are currently failing women.

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Lawyers have also welcomed the reform should Labor take office at the next election.

Featured Image: Getty Image. 

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au