What is happening?
The expanded gender diversity reporting requirements for businesses with over 100 employees, introduced by the previous Labor Government in the form of the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth) (WGE Act), are likely to be back on the agenda with Federal Parliament resuming this week.
There is speculation about the future and content of these reporting requirements. As such, it is important for employers to keep abreast of developments in Canberra to ensure they remain prepared and compliant (potentially from 1 April 2014).
Why is compliance important?
The consequences of non-compliance for employers include:
- naming a non-complying employer in a report to the Minister and on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website; and
- ineligibility to tender for Commonwealth and some state government contracts and apply for grants or other financial assistance.
Current state of play
As it currently stands, the WGE Act places obligations on organisations with over 100 employees to report annually to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency against a set of six standardised gender equality indicators.
The reporting requirements under the WGE Act are being phased-in in three stages. The next reporting period (commencing 1 April 2014) is the final stage, at which time the requirements under the WGE Act will be fully operational. This means that, from 1 April this year, employers will be required to obtain data and lodge reports that, in addition to the current requirements:
- contain additional information regarding gender equality indicators; and
- demonstrate compliance with new minimum standards set by the Minister.
Watch this space
The new minimum standards are to be contained in a legislative instrument made by the Minister – however, the instrument has not yet been made.
There has also been recent media speculation about the future of the gender reporting requirements, with rumours that the Minister is considering watering down, or even scrapping, current and future requirements under the WGE Act. Given that the legislation is due to become fully operational on 1 April 2014 (and the Minister is required to set the minimum standards by then), the government has until 31 March 2014 to table legislation either amending or repealing aspects of the WGE Act.
We will keep you updated as developments occur.