20 Oct 2015

Equal pay on the way for women?

8:47 pm on 20 October 2015

The government has set up a taskforce to look into pay equity issues, which could lead to a change to the current law.

Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse said unions and employers had agreed to a working group to establish principles for dealing with pay equity claims.

It had been prompted by a recent Court of Appeal decision on pay rates in the aged care sector, which found women in predominantly female workforces were paid less.

Mr Woodhouse said there were other cases before the courts.

"We believe the most efficient way to deal with that, and to step back and take a look at what the principles for pay equity might look like is to get this working group together, and I'm very pleased we've been able to do that."

Unions had agreed to put legal action on hold until March 2016 to allow the working group to proceed, he said.

A Council of Trade Unions spokesperson said the announcement was a significant milestone which would allow women working in female-dominated areas to get the recognition they deserved.

Former president Helen Kelly will lead the unions' representatives and said they will also investigate whether there had been a systematic undervaluation of pay rates in female-dominated industries.

"We will not be compromising on the bottom line that this process must not only result in principles that allow women to get equal pay, but that they actually get paid - that will be the ultimate proof of the pudding."

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