Gender Pay Equity Reform in Australia: What is the Way Forward?
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Pay equity reform in Australia has occurred in three stages. The first comprised the adoption of equal pay principles in 1969 and 1972. The second involved a legislative entitlement to equal remuneration, introduced in 1993 and retained by the Workplace Relations Act 1996. Despite the existence of such legislative provisions, they remain under-utilised. The third stage involved the development of new equal remuneration principles at a state level. These principles represented an advance for women employed in some spheres, as they elevated undervaluation, as opposed to discrimination, as a key litmus test in assessing claims for equal remuneration. The Work Choices amendments excluded specifically these initiatives while at the same time maintaining a nominal entitlement to equal remuneration. This pattern of gender pay equity reform has important consequences for the recasting of federal labour law, specifically if the available institutional measures are to enable aggregate and collective remedies.