The Pay Equity Unit undertakes specialist research and data collection to inform matters related to pay equity under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act). The Pay Equity Unit commenced operation on 1 July 2013.

The main activities of the Pay Equity Unit throughout 2013–14 included:

  • data collection through the Australian Workplace Relations Study (AWRS)
  • commissioning a research report into equal remuneration under the Fair Work Act, and
  • undertaking research and providing assistance to Commission Members in equal remuneration proceedings.

Australian Workplace Relations Study

Understanding current workplace practices and outcomes plays an important role in informing the work of the Commission as well as our stakeholders, policymakers and researchers.

As part of our Future Directions program the Commission has funded and coordinated the AWRS. The AWRS is the first major study in Australia to link employee and employer characteristics and experiences since the 1995 Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey. In similar studies overseas, linking employer-employee data has enabled researchers in other countries to generate new insights into labour market and firm dynamics.

As well as informing the broader community, the AWRS will provide the Commission with contemporary data to inform pay equity research and assist in our statutory functions, including wage-setting and the General Manager’s section 653 Fair Work Act reports.

The themes covered in the study include:

  • workforce management, wage-setting and employee engagement practices
  • use of Individual Flexibility Arrangements and requests made under the National Employment Standards
  • ownership structure, market competitiveness, labour productivity measurement and how enterprises respond to changes to the marketplace
  • performance, profitability, income sources and key expense items
  • workforce characteristics, including union density, and
  • employee demographics, remuneration and engagement.

The study was designed after extensive consultation with business groups, unions and government agencies. These groups sat on a steering committee to guide the design. Academic experts reviewed the questionnaires that were developed and provided feedback to the Pay Equity Unit. Testing of the data collection tools and processes was undertaken in the first half of the 2013–14 year.

Data collection for the AWRS began in February 2014 and continued into the 2014–15 year. The AWRS has collected information from over 3000 employers and almost 8000 employees. In the 2014–15 year the Pay Equity Unit will:

  • prepare survey data for each component of the study and create a linked dataset
  • publish a report of the findings
  • release non-identifiable data files via secure transfer methods, and
  • prepare resources to assist data users to perform their own analysis.

Equal remuneration research report

Equal pay (remuneration) is an important issue for the Commission. The Fair Work Act empowers the Commission to make orders to ensure there will be equal remuneration for male and female workers for work of equal or comparable value.

The Pay Equity Unit commissioned an independent research report into equal remuneration during the 2013–14 year. The Equal Remuneration under the Fair Work Act 2009 (PDF) report was developed by three independent expert academics and published in December 2013.

The report explains key constructs, identifies the usefulness of material parties may bring to equal remuneration proceedings, and directs parties to key resources which may be relevant to an equal remuneration case. The report also examines the operation of equal remuneration legislation and practice in international jurisdictions.

Ongoing research and assistance in pay equity matters

The Pay Equity Unit provided ongoing research and support services to the Full Bench in the Equal Remuneration Case 2013–14 as part of a wider role of delivering information to inform matters relating to pay equity.

As part of that role, the Pay Equity Unit consulted with parties to the Equal Remuneration Case to prepare a data report providing information on the long day care sector and the pre-school sector.