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Are EBAs perpetuating gender pay gap?

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
22 January 2019 1 minute readShare
Australian Bureau of Statistics building

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that women continue to earn less than men, and revealed a discrepancy between the type of employment contracts most common for both sexes.

According to the ABS, men working full-time earned an average of $1,811 per week as of May 2018 — a difference of $295 when compared to the $1,516 average pay of women working full-time.

Women did, however, earn fractionally more than men when comparing the earnings of part-time workers — an average of $669 per week compared with $666 for men.

Interestingly, the data showed that the most common type of employment agreement differs for men and women.

The ABS noted that collective agreements, such as Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs), were the most common type of employment agreement, covering 40 per cent of all working Australians.

Individual contracts were a close second, accounting for 37 per cent. Just 23 per cent of Australians rely on an industry award.

“[However,] men were more likely to have their pay set by an individual arrangement (44 per cent),” said ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman.

“Whereas the most common method for women was a collective agreement (42 per cent).”

It raises the question of whether the type of employment contract used plays a role in perpetuating the ongoing pay gap between the two genders.

There are moves internationally to enforce wage transparency among medium and large businesses, with INSEAD recently determining that the gender pay gap dropped by 7 per cent following the introduction of compulsory wage disclosure in Denmark in 2006.

Who earns the most and the least?

Overall, the highest 25 per cent of earners are paid more than $1,686 each week. The lowest paid 25 per cent receive less than $682.

There were few surprises when it came the type of roles taking home the lion’s share of earnings, with managers and professionals the nation’s top earners at $60.40 and $54.00 per hour, respectively.

Sales workers received the lowest hourly rate of pay at $28.50, followed by labourers at $29.50.

The overall average hourly rate of pay was $39.10.

By industry, mining had the highest labour costs, averaging $60.60 per hour. At the other end of the spectrum, accommodation and food services paid the lowest, with hourly rates less than half of the mining industry at $25.90.

The Employee Earnings and Hours Australia report is published by the ABS every two years in May.

Are EBAs perpetuating gender pay gap?
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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