Gender pay gap lower in commonwealth public service

3/07/2023
The gender pay gap between women and men is lower in the commonwealth public service than in the private sector, although it's still a long way from wage parity.
 

Women working in the commonwealth public sector are paid on average 88 cents in the dollar compared to men, according to the 2022 Commonwealth Public Sector Gender Equality Snapshot - the first look at WGEA reporting of gender equality in the public sector. 

This compares to 77 cents in the dollar for women working in the private sector.

This translates to a total remuneration gender pay gap in the commonwealth public sector of 11.6 per cent, while in the private sector it's 22.8 per cent.

"Policies like publicly-advertised salary levels, target setting, regular employee consultation and comprehensive access to paid parental leave help the public sector lead in workplace gender equality," WGEA CEO Mary Wooldridge told Associated Press.

"However, these results also show that many of these policies have focused on women, rather than all employees. This is particularly the case for support for parents and carers."

As a result, the uptake of paid primary carers leave by men is at a rate similar to the private sector - that is, 13.5 per cent in the public sector versus 13 per cent in the private sector.

"To advance gender equality, we need to shift cultural norms and pervasive gender stereotypes that reinforce an unequal share of parenting and act as a barrier to women's full participation in the workforce," Ms Wooldridge said.

The 2022, Anti‑Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act resulted in an amendment to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 to require Commonwealth entities and companies with 100 or more employees to report to WGEA from 2023.

Ahead of mandatory reporting WGEA invited relevant Commonwealth entities and companies to voluntarily report their gender equality data. 52 (of a possible 112) participated in this program. Participants included 40 agencies who employ staff under the Public Service Act (APS agencies) and 12 non-APS agencies 

The data included in the 2022 Public Sector Gender Equality Snapshot reflects these voluntary reporting Commonwealth public sector employers. It does not reflect the public sector as a whole.

Key findings at a glance

The public sector gender pay gap: Women, on average, earn 88 cents for every dollar earned by a man

  • The total remuneration gender pay gap for the Commonwealth employers that voluntarily reported to WGEA is 11.6%
  • Non-APS employers had a higher gender pay gap (13%) than APS employers (7.2%). 
  • 65% of employers had a gender pay gap in favour of men (a gender pay gap >5%). 
  • No employers had a gender pay gap in favour of women (a gender pay gap <5%). 

WGEA’s gender pay gap includes total remuneration (salary, super, overtime, bonuses) and annualised full-time equivalent part-time workers’ earnings for comparability.

Workforce composition: Men are more likely to be in the top salary bracket and roles

  • 1 in 3 men are in the top income bracket compared to 1 in 5 women.
  • Women are 1.5 times as likely to be in the lowest earning quartile.
  • Women make up 57% of the workforce in the Commonwealth Public Sector employers that voluntarily reported to WGEA. But women only hold 48% of leadership positions at the senior executive service level. 

 Action on gender equality: Employer targets largely focus on women

  • 67% of the voluntary reporting public sector employers said they had set targets to improve workplace gender equality. 
  • Targets to increase the number of women in leadership (40%) and the number of women in male-dominated roles (19%) were most common.
  • Far fewer employers are setting targets that focus on men, such increasing the number of men in female-dominated roles (4%) and using flexible work arrangements or taking parental leave (10%).

Support for carers: Men aren’t taking advantage of parental leave policies

  • All reporting employers offered paid parental leave in addition to government-funded parental leave. 
  • The average length of primary carer’s leave is 15.4 weeks - more leave than the minimum set out in the Maternity Leave Act.  
  • Men account for just 13.5% of primary carer’s leave taken. This is similar to men’s uptake rates in the private sector (13%). 

Consultation: Employers are consulting staff on gender equality

  • More than 80% of employers reported consulting with employees on issues concerning workplace gender equality. 
  • This is despite most employers (67%) not having a formal policy on consultation. 

Public sector reporting in 2023

2023 public sector reporting dates are 1 September to 31 October for the 2022 year. For more information on this process, head to the WGEA reporting portal.

The full list of Commonwealth public sector employers that voluntarily provided data to WGEA

  • Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
  • Airservices Australia
  • Attorney-General’s Department
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Australian Building and Construction Commission
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority
  • Australian Electoral Commission
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Financial Security Authority
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
  • Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
  • Australian Public Service Commission
  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
  • Australian Skills and Quality Authority
  • Australian Sports Commission
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Australian Trade and Investment Commission
  • Australian War Memorial
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Clean Energy Finance Corporation
  • Comcare Australia
  • CSIRO
  • Defence Housing Australia
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Department of Home Affairs
  • Department of Infrastructure
  • Department of Social Services
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Department of the Senate
  • Department of the Treasury Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Digital Transformation Agency
  • Fair Work Ombudsman
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • Geoscience Australia
  • Indigenous Business Australia
  • IP Australia
  • Murray-Darling Basin Authority
  • National Disability Insurance Agency
  • National Indigenous Australians Agency
  • NBN Co Limited
  • Reserve Bank of Australia
  • Services Australia
  • Special Broadcasting Service Corporation
  • Sport Integrity Australia
  • Workplace Gender Equality Agency
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