The time for your organisation to lodge its annual workplace gender equality report is near, with the reporting period ending on 31 March and reports due to be lodged with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) by the end of May.
In this update we outline the reporting requirements under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. We also flag proposed changes announced by the Federal government last week aimed at easing reporting requirements for employers.
What are the reports designed to do?
Gender reporting is designed to enable organisations to identify and address gaps in gender equality, gender representation, gender pay and access to flexible work arrangements within their organisation. The WGEA collects and analyses the data from employer reports and develops benchmarks in relation to gender equality indicators to improve gender equality outcomes.
Which employers must report?
Reports must be lodged with the WGEA by:
- registered higher education providers; and
- private sector employers that have 100 or more employees for any six months or more of a reporting period.
What goes into the report?
Employers must report on specific matters relating to six gender equality indicators (GEIs) which cover:
- gender composition of the workforce
- gender composition of governing bodies
- equal remuneration between men and women
- the availability and use of flexible working arrangements
- consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace
- sex-based harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
The specific matters to be covered in the report are set out in a legislative instrument. The WGEA website provides reporting resources and allows employers to submit their reports online.
What is the reporting period?
The reporting period is 1 April to 31 March the following year.
Employers must lodge their reports with the WGEA within two months of the end of the reporting period (ie by 31 May).
What are the proposed changes?
There have been a number of changes to workplace gender equality reporting requirements over the past few years, including the gradual introduction of more onerous reporting obligations.
The Federal government last week announced changes to the reporting requirements aimed at streamlining the matters to be included in the report to ease the compliance burden on employers. The proposed changes wind back some of the more onerous obligations that were due to take effect from 1 April 2015 for the 2015-2016 reporting period.
The changes, once introduced, will mean that employers will not have to report on:
- the number of job applications received and interviews conducted
- remuneration of CEOs and some key management personnel
- annualised average full-time components of remuneration
- the number of requests made and granted for extensions to parental leave.
- New information employers must provide
- For the 2015-2016 reporting period, employers will be required to provide data for managers and non managers regarding:
- appointments, promotions and resignations; and
- the proportion of employees that ceased employment following parental leave.
When do the changes apply?
Changes to the reporting requirements will start for the 2015-2016 reporting period, which commences on 1 April 2015, and will be relevant for reports to be lodged in the reporting period from 1 April – 31 May 2016.
Importantly, reporting requirements for the current 2014-2015 reporting period (ending on 31 March 2015) are not affected by the changes.
Notification and access obligations
Employers must notify employees and shareholders that they have lodged a gender report with the WGEA and provide access to that report (with personal and confidential information redacted).
Employers are also required to take reasonable steps notify relevant unions that a gender report has been lodged. Unions and employees must be invited to comment on the report.
What happens if an employer does not comply?
Where an employer fails to comply with the reporting requirements:
- the WGEA can ‘name and shame’ non-complying employers in a report to the Minister (which can be published on the WGEA website) or through media releases;
- the employer may not be eligible to:
- compete for contracts under the Commonwealth procurement framework; or
- apply for Commonwealth grants or other financial assistance.
This article was written by Kerryn Tredwell, Partner and Sarah Gelbart, Lawyer.