Workplace Gender Equality

Reporting requirements under the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth.).

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Do you need to comply?

Possibly. A school with 100 or more employees in Australia for any six months or more of a reporting period is a relevant employer and is required to comply with theWorkplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth) (the Act). The six months do not have to be consecutive months. The number of employees is based on the headcount of employees (not full-time equivalent employees) and includes full-time, part-time, casual and temporary employees.

Where a relevant employer has previously reported and the number of employees employed falls below 100 employees, the employer must continue to report until employee numbers fall below 80 for six months or more of the particular reporting period. The six months do not have to be consecutive months.

Conditions of compliance

The Act requires a relevant employer, as described above, to submit an annual public report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), a government body established to administer the Act.

If you have to comply, what do you have to do?

The aim of gender equality in the workplace is to achieve broadly equal outcomes for women and men, not exactly the same outcome for all individuals. To achieve this requires:

  • the workplace to provide equal remuneration for women and men for work of equal or comparable value
  • the removal of barriers to the full and equal participation of women in the workforce
  • full and genuine access to positions of employment, including to leadership roles for women and men
  • elimination of discrimination on the basis of gender particularly in relation to family and caring responsibilities for both women and men.

A relevant employer must register with the WGEA. The reporting year is 1 April to 31 March, with the report to be submitted to the WGEA, using the online reporting framework, between 1 April and 31 May.

In 2015 for the 2014–15 reporting period (1 April – 31 March) and onwards, a relevant employer will comply with the Act if the employer:

  • lodges a report with the WGEA containing required information each year on time, which includes a workplace profile and a reporting questionnaire (18 questions) structured around the six gender equality indicators (GEIs):
    • GEI 1: gender composition of the workforce
    • GEI 2: gender composition of governing bodies of the relevant employer/s
    • GEI 3: equal remuneration between women and men
    • GEI 4: availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees and to working arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities
    • GEI 5: consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace
    • GEI 6: any other matters specified by the Minister in a legislative instrument: Sex-based harassment and discrimination.
  • complies with the notification and access requirements, which include providing the public report to employees and advising the relevant union/s (with members in the workplace) that the report has been lodged with the WGEA, and notifying employees and relevant union/s that comments about the public report may be provided to the employer and/or the WGEA
  • meets minimum standards or, if a minimum standard is not met, makes improvements against it by the end of two further reporting periods
  • has the report signed by the chief executive officer (CEO) (usually the Principal in the case of a school)
  • if asked, gives the WGEA information for the purpose of reviewing compliance
  • does not give false or misleading information in a report, or when providing information as requested by the WGEA for the purpose of reviewing compliance with the Act.

The Workplace Gender Equality (Minimum Standards) Instrument 2014 (Cth) has set a minimum standard which applies only to employers of 500 or more employees. This minimum standard requires a relevant employer with 500 or more employees to have in place, by 1 October 2014, a policy or strategy in at least one of the following areas:

  • GEI 1 – gender composition of the workforce
  • GEI 3 – equal remuneration between women and men
  • GEI 4 – availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees and to working arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities
  • GEI 6 – sex-based harassment and discrimination.

If an employer of 500 or more employees that is required to meet the minimum standard does not do so, then the employer will have a further two years to improve against the minimum standard before it may be deemed non-compliant by the WGEA. It will not be possible for a relevant employer to fail to comply with the Act on the basis of failure to improve against a minimum standard until the end of the 2016–17 reporting period.

The WGEA provides guidelines and a range of useful resources on its website.

The WGEA will assist a relevant employer to achieve compliance with the reporting requirements.

What are the consequences if you don’t comply?

The WGEA may name a non-compliant employer in a report to the Minister or by electronic or other means.

A non-compliant employer may not be eligible to tender for contracts under the Commonwealth and some state procurement frameworks and may not be eligible for some Commonwealth grants or other financial assistance.

The WGEA may review a relevant employer’s compliance with the Act by seeking further information from the employer. A review may be conducted on a random basis and may also take into account comments made to the WGEA by employees or employee organisations when determining if a review is to be conducted.

Who will help you?

Independent Schools Victoria contact:

Kerri Knopp
Director, Strategic Relations
Ph. 03 9825 7210

Liz Gilmour
Senior Employment Relations Advisor
Ph: 03 9825 7237

Jacinta Andrews
Employment Relations Advisor
Ph. 03 9825 7206

Links and Resources

WGEA: Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 – About the Legislation

WGEA: What Reporting Organisations Need to Know

WGEA: Reporting and Compliance

WGEA: Tools and Resources