Gender reporting streamlined

THE federal government has scrapped new gender reporting requirements that were due to come into effect in April, answering business calls for a less onerous and time-consuming reporting system.
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Courtesy of Queensland Resources Council

Marion Lopez

The requirements – introduced by Labor as part of the Workplace Gender Equality Act – would have obliged companies with more than 100 employees to disclose the gender of all job applicants, and report employee remuneration break downs, CEO salaries, staff promotions and resignations.

Minister for Employment Eric Abetz said dumping the new reforms should keep the scheme strong while minimising cost impacts on business, which are expected to reduce by one third from the next reporting season.

“Employers expressed strong support for gender equality in the workplace and want to make a difference,” he said.

“However, many found the reporting regime overly complex and time consuming and are not confident it will help them to improve gender equality within their organisation.

“This announcement will ensure that employers can see the value for their effort and that the community can benefit from the data – such prerequisites should be obvious for any such reporting.”

The decision to scrap the requirements follows an extensive consultation process between government and industry, which also highlighted issues with the current reporting requirements including reporting remuneration against non‑manager categories.

While no reforms were made, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said a working group would be established to identify ways to improve reporting requirements in these categories. It will include former director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Helen Conway, co-chair of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group, Elizabeth Broderick, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Kate Carnell, Transfield Services chairwoman Dianne Smith-Gander and Women on Boards executive director Claire Braund.

“This working group will help to ensure that genuine issues that are identified by both employers and the women’s sector can be addressed,” Cash said.

“The covernment extends its genuine appreciation to Ms Conway, Ms Broderick, Ms Carnell, Ms Smith-Gander and Ms Braund for making themselves available for this important task.”

The working group will develop options and test them with employers in the first half of 2015.

Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox welcomed the scrapping of the new requirements and the government’s openness to further improve gender reporting requirements.

“The changes announced to the gender reporting framework are sensible, removing unnecessary red tape without impacting upon the integrity of the reporting,” he said.

“The changes remove some unworkable elements of the previously proposed reporting arrangements, such as a requirement to report on the gender of job applicants. For example, how could an employer or their recruiter be expected to know the gender of all persons who make a written application for a job? Often only a small proportion of applicants are interviewed.

“We thank the government for consulting widely and we look forward to working with them to deliver sensible and workable outcomes on gender reporting.”