Vic councils on notice to take tackle workplace gender equality

Victorian local governments will have to report on and improve gender equality in the workplace under new legislation that came into force this week.

The landmark Gender Equality Act 2020 is designed to close the pay gap across all 300 of the state’s public sector employers, improve gender equality at all levels of the workforce, and eliminate workplace sexual harassment.  

Organisations will be required to address the drivers of gender inequality, including the pay gap in the public sector, which has increased in the past 12 months to 10.7 percent, and set targets for yearly improvements.

Employers will also need to undertake “gender impact assessments” to ensure their policies, programs and services consider and cater to the different needs of all genders and produce “gender equality action plans” based on this data by October 31.

The state’s newly appointed Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner, Niki Vincent, will have a range of options available to enforce the Act.

These include:

  • working directly with employers to achieve an informal resolution;
  • issuing a compliance notice, recommending the Minister for Women [Gabrielle Williams] take action against the organisation;
  • naming the organisation and its failure to comply on the commission website; and, as a last resort
  • making an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order directing the organisation to abide by the law.

The Victorian government has set aside $13 million to implement the Gender Equality Act and provide guidance, training and support to organisations.