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FW Act, Making it Fair & Low Paid Women. Anne Junor Notes for Women and Work Research Group [email protected] Pay Equity Workshop Friday 18 December 2009. Safety net – Modern Awards plus NES. In addition to annual reviews, modern award minimum wages can be varied:

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Fw act making it fair low paid women

FW Act, Making it Fair & Low Paid Women

Anne Junor

Notes for Women and Work Research Group

[email protected]

Pay Equity Workshop

Friday 18 December 2009

Safety net modern awards plus nes
Safety net – Modern Awards plus NES

  • In addition to annual reviews, modern award minimum wages can be varied:

    • In 4-yearly reviews for work value reasons (s.156(3))- nature of work; level of skill, responsibility (s.156 (4))

    • Outside the 4-yearly period to achieve MA objectives s.157(2) taking into account current national minimum wage order.

    • To remove ambiguities or correct errors(s.160)

    • On referral by HREOC (s.161).

  • MIF: Include ER as objective of MAs (R. 9); Amend s.156(4) and s. 157 to include evidence of historical undervaluation on gender basis (R 7-8); Funding of pursuit of ER Orders (R. 5); Use of SDA in Fed (Magistrates) Court (R 19-21).

Individual flexibility arrangements
Individual flexibility arrangements

  • Term in MA allowing variation of a MA term by individual arrangements covering when work is performed; overtime rates; penalty rates; allowances; or leave loading

  • Qualifications: genuine need and agreement; BOOT

  • Asian Women at Work – fear of employer abuse (Zhang, 2009)

    MIF: Amend Act s. 65 to require lodgement of individual flexibility arrangements with Fair Work Australia (R.13). Is simple lodgment enough??

Award agreement free workers
Award/agreement-free workers

  • NES cannot be undercut, but

  • Employees may agree to either or both of:

    (a) extra annual leave in exchange for foregoing an equivalent amount of pay; and

    (b) extra personal/carer’s leave in exchange for foregoing an equivalent amount of pay

    (S 129; Regulations).

    MIF: Extend right to request to casuals (R.14)

Earnings by wage setting arrangements aust 2006
Earnings by wage setting arrangements – Aust 2006


hrly rate

Registered collective










Award only


0.75 0.8 0.85 0.9 0.95 1.00 1.05 1.10

Ratio female/male hourly earnings


Low paid bargaining
Low paid bargaining

  • Bargaining representatives may apply for a low-paid authorisation in relation to a proposed multi-enterprise agreement.

  • If authorisation is in place and agreement impossible, FWA may make a low-paid workplace determination.

  • FWA must make an industrial action related workplace determination if:

  • a termination of industrial action instrument is made, without settlement

  • FWA must make a bargaining related workplace determination where a serious breach of a bargaining order, and matters not settled.

    MIF: Amend Act to impose legal obligation on parties to bargain to achieve pay equity, and FWA not approve an agreement unless the agreement is necessary to achieve pay equity or implements it (R. 15)

    FWA to require employers of significant numbers of NESB workers to provide explanations of agreements in employees’ own language (R. 16).

Low paid cald and indigenous women and women with disabilities
Low-paid CALD and Indigenous women and women with disabilities

  • 2006 CEDAW country review critical of Australia’s record in remedying inequities experienced by Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women, and women with disabilities, as well as refugees and trafficked women. PE Inquiry (pp. 321ff):

  • Working Women’s Centres of South Australia - Indigenous pay gap in 2001 of 81% for managers, 73 % (professionals) , 56% (labourers) - absence of baseline data hampering policy development.

  • Women with Disabilities Australia - de-link disability-related supports and income support, to remove LM participation barriers.

  • FECCA - location of CALD women in insecure and low wage jobs reinforced by 20 year erosion of English language programs, ongoing problems of overseas qualifications recognition.

    MIF: Priority collection of baseline data on the workforce participation of Indigenous women and women with disabilities (R. 55 , 56); ministerial review of qualifications & English language programs; federal-state government work experience program for migrant women (R. 57-59); targeting CALD women in publicity on paid maternity leave (Recommendation 60);

Part time work
Part Time Work disabilities

  • Quality PT work + greater flexibility within SER:

    • New, secure, non-gendered employment standard, or continuation of flexible alternatives to old SER, all involving varying degrees of precariousness?

      • Occ. segregation linked to occ. working hours norms (Carney)

      • Choice between casual PT and long-hours FT time work - ‘working time insecurity’

  • MIF: WESKI database;National Pay Equity Survey (R48, 51)

    Removal of Superannuation Guarantee earnings threshold, extension of fund access & co-contributions to all employees; fund or modification of Ausfund to consolidate multiple jobholders’ contributions (37-39);

    Long service leave scheme allowing portability of service based on equitable industry-based employer contributions (R40).

Disappointing comparatively
Disappointing, comparatively… disabilities

Netherlands (Burri 2009):

  • Most part time work offers standard open-ended contracts with statutory protections and social security benefits

  • Act on Flexibility and Security 1999 - end-to-end temporarycontracts must be converted to ongoing employment.

  • But 20% now in unregulated short-hours jobs

    Sweden (Jonsson and Nyberg 2009):

  • Parents of children aged under eight can request a temporary reduction to 75 % full time hours

  • But PT as underemployment – not eligible for ‘make-up’ social security.

    MIF: Review of assistance to employers in providing child care (R.61); creation of a special portfolio to develop policy on out of school care (R. 62). Good, but no recommendations on PT

But good on
But …good on disabilities

  • Care work – which is predominantly PPT

  • Recognition of tacit service skills – many submissions were cited on this –

  • Scope for systematic approach to skills identification – ASU case will set parameters.

The Spotlight Skills Recognition Tool disabilities

Developed for NZ DoLPay and Employment Equity Unit (Commissioned on initiative of Philippa Hall to ‘make pay equity ordinary’)

Skills classification framework consisting of three sets of skills – shaping awareness, interacting/relating and coordinating

Five learning-based levels of each skill – familiarisation, fluent practice, practised problem-solving, solution-sharing, system-building

Provides a systematic means of naming precisely, at 5 levels of experience-based learning, the hard-to-define, often-overlooked ‘people’ and ‘time management’ skills required in service work

Turns ‘soft skills’ and ‘personal qualities’ ‘into a systematic taxonomic framework on which recognition and career development can be based

Both job and person focused - being used as a recruitment interview item bank in DoL and for individual skill audits in parts of NZ Community sector; has also helped inform use of equitable job evaluation tool in several pay equity cases

The spotlight lens
The Spotlight lens disabilities

  • Regina disabilities

  • Sole charge employee in social service network

  • Used some of her Spotlight skills to the highest level

  • Identified need for training in boundary setting, conflict management and giving feedback in situations of unequal power, as well as strategic planning

  • Resolved to ask her board for more frequent professional supervision

Case Studies by Celia Briar, Conor Twyford

  • Hannah, Esther, Rosa, Ruby

  • Three paid workers in a women’s health collective plus a board member who also does some voluntary and paid work

  • Staff worked to the top level of some of their Spotlight skills - creation of new delivery systems, public relations, mission statements and strategic planning

  • Clear link between years of experience in the job and level of Spotlight skills

References disabilities

Burri, S. (2009) ‘The Netherlands; Precarious employment in a context of flexicurity’, in L. Vosko et al. (eds) Gender & the Contours of Precarious Employment, Routledge, London: 127-142.

Carney, T. (2009) ‘The employment disadvantage ofmothers: Evidence for systemic discrimination’ Journal of Industrial Relations 51: 113-130.

Jonsson, I. & Nyberg, A. (2009) ‘Sweden: Precarious work and precarious unemployment’, in Vosko et al., pp. 194-210.

NZ Dept of Labour (2009) Spotlight: A Skills Recognition Tool, DOL, Wellington

Zhang, A. (2009) Will things improve for migrant workers? Paper presented at Symposium on The Fair Work Act: Promises, Potential, Protections and Pitfalls, UNSW, Sydney, 21 August.