Early Learning and Paid Parental Leave Reform Vital for Closing the Ongoing Gender Pay Gap in Australia
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) highlights the gender wage gap in Australia remains stubbornly high at 13.3 per cent, despite a 0.6% decrease from pre-COVID levels.
Chief Executive of The Parenthood, Georgie Dent said, “The national gender pay gap will not be eliminated in this generation unless structural reform is pursued as a matter of urgency to give women a fair opportunity to engage in paid employment.
“While the decrease of 0.6% in the gender pay gap is positive, the rate of progress remains far too slow.“It is both astounding and shameful that in the year 2023 women in Australia still earn 13.3% less than men. And this is the gap between men and women who work full-time.
“When you take into account actual earnings the gap is much higher and reflects that women are far more likely to work part-time and casually than men.”
The Workplace and Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) Employer Census Gender Pay Gap is 22.8%, which comes from the annual Employer Census of more than 4 million employees and includes total remuneration, part time and casual employees.
“One of the key solutions for addressing the income discrepancies between men and women is creating universal early learning and reforming paid parental leave. Parenting and caring responsibilities remain overwhelmingly undertaken by women, which restricts and/or limits their economic participation in the workforce. By making quality early learning and care more accessible and affordable through a universal system, we can ensure that women do not have to choose between their caregiving and professional responsibilities.
“By ensuring men are supported to take parental leave and share the care at home in the first year of a child’s life is fundamental to enabling women to participate more equitably in paid work.
“Currently Australia has one of the least adequate paid parental leave policies in the developed world, and dads take far less parental leave than dads globally. This has a direct impact on women’s workforce participation. Limited parental leave entitlements often force women out of the workforce and make pathways for re-entry more difficult.
“Making our Paid Parental Leave policies more generous and comparable to other similar nations, will help ensure that the gender pay gap is addressed directly by allowing women to take time they need to physically recover from birth and care for their newborn, while remaining connected to the workplace.
“These reforms will not only help address the gender pay gap but will also boost the overall productivity of the workforce by ensuring that women’s economic participation is lifted up to the same level as men.
“The pay gap is a reflection of the structural inequality women face. Structural problems need structural solutions like reform of early learning and paid parental leave,” Ms Dent said. “Women have paid too high a price for too long.”