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To improve equity in the workplace, the NSW Government will take bold steps to work towards closing the gender pay gap and helping more women into leadership positions.
Many of the reforms involve tackling gender discrimination as well as industry segregation, which are some of the major drivers of the gender pay gap.
The NSW Government will also take action to boost transparency around the performance of both the public and private sector when it comes to fairness and equity at work.
One of the key ways to help to close the gender pay gap and achieve equal representation in leadership positions involves increasing the transparency surrounding the payments, promotions and practices of employers.
Raising awareness of the importance of gender equality and empowering female employees with more information can help to tackle gender discrimination, which is the biggest driver of the gender pay gap.
The WGEA Employer of Choice status is a certification issued by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) to companies that achieve best practice in creating equitable workplaces for both men and women.
To help jobseekers to make the most of this certification, the NSW Government will partner with recruitment platforms to display whether a company is a WGEA Employer of Choice on job search websites and ads which will help prospective employees identify workplaces that prioritise and act on gender equality in their workplace.
This will provide a strong incentive for companies to improve their conditions for female workers in order to attract the best talent.
In December 2021, the Commonwealth Government released the results of the review into the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth).
The NSW Government welcomes the results of the review and the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to adopt its recommendations.
In response to this review, the NSW Government will join the Commonwealth Government in reporting its workforce data to the WGEA.
This will allow the WGEA to include information on gender equality in the NSW public service as part of its annual reports and online data, helping to expand the scope of the WGEA’s reporting and promote a culture of transparency in both the public and private sectors.
The NSW Government will publish an annual statement on the gender equality achievements of the biggest listed companies operating in New South Wales.
The Statement will set out the performance of some of the State’s biggest employers when it comes to supporting women in the workforce, helping to encourage companies to improve their policies and practices, as well as drive a race to the top when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.
New South Wales has a highly gender-segregated workforce. Industries such as mining and construction have higher concentrations of male workers, while industries like education and aged care have higher concentrations of female workers. KPMG estimates that gender segregation accounted for up to 17 per cent of the gender pay gap in Australia in 2017.168
Industry segregation contributes to the gender pay gap as well as workplace culture. Some male-dominated industries have higher rates of pay than female-dominated industries, while industries that have lower proportions of female workers can be less welcoming for women.
Acting to lower industry segregation can help reduce the gender pay gap, improve workplace cultures and help address workforce shortages to ensure the NSW economy continues to grow.
The construction industry has already made steady progress to increase the number of women working in the sector, but women still only make up less than 12.7 per cent of its workforce and less than 2 per cent of related trade jobs, making it one of the most male-dominated industries in Australia.
Improving the proportion of women in the construction industry is important to drive female workforce participation and improve workplace cultures.
It is also important to boost the skilled workforce needed to deliver the State’s record $110.4 billion infrastructure pipeline.
Latest estimates indicate that skills shortages in the construction industry are forecast to exceed 105,000 nationally, with one-third of construction jobs advertised going unfilled169.
To help attract more women to the industry and address workforce shortages, the NSW Government will set a goal of 15 per cent women in trades and non-traditional roles in the construction industry by 2030.
In order to achieve this, the NSW Government will invest $20.2 million in skills, training and industryled initiatives, working with the sector to attract and retain more women in its workforce. This funding will be used to:
As an interim measure, the NSW Government will double the current Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program target to 4 per cent of women in trade roles on major government construction projects of more than $100 million, reflecting the successful work undertaken by industry so far, and support a target of 7 per cent of women in non-traditional roles on major government infrastructure sites.
These initiatives are a critical economic intervention to address skills shortages in the construction industry.
The NSW Government will work with a range of industry representatives including industry associations, construction firms, sub-contractors and trade unions to reach the goal.
These initiatives will be coupled with ongoing work led by SafeWork NSW to continue to ensure awareness and compliance of obligations to provide clean and adequate amenities for women on worksites, supply proper and safe personal protective equipment, and remove offensive materials at worksites.
Some of the most female-dominated industries in New South Wales include education and healthcare, sectors in which the NSW Government is a major employer.
Currently men make up about 34 per cent of the NSW Government workforce, including 23 per cent of teaching roles and 13 per cent of nursing roles170.
Conversely, other parts of the public sector remain male-dominated, such as professional firefighting where women make up only 10 per cent of all frontline roles.
The NSW Government is committed to driving diversity in the public sector, which delivers improved outcomes for New South Wales and helps to set a high standard for the private sector.
To help to make the public sector a more attractive place for all people to work, the NSW Government will continue to promote flexible work policies, enabling workers to balance their caring responsibilities.
The NSW Government will also make improvements to the public sector’s paid parental leave arrangements and ensure workplaces are inclusive and flexible.
As part of the 2022-23 Budget, the NSW Government will take action in the following four key areas.
First, in order to encourage more fathers to take parental leave, the NSW Government will provide all new parents in the public sector with 14 weeks of paid parental leave, regardless of their carer status or gender, thereby removing the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carer distinction from the NSW Government’s paid parental leave arrangements.
Currently, NSW public service employees are entitled to 14 weeks paid parental leave if they are the primary carer of their child, and two weeks if they are the secondary carer.
This arrangement tends to reinforce the societal norm that mothers should take more time off to care for a child than fathers.
In circumstances where both parents are employed in the public sector, each parent will be entitled to 14 weeks, taking their entitlement as a family to 28 weeks.
In addition, the NSW Government will also expand the window in which parents in the public sector can take paid parental leave from one year to two years after birth, which is expected to drive uptake by fathers and provide greater flexibility to both parents in managing leave and care arrangements.
Second, to provide an extra incentive, the NSW Government will add a further two weeks of bonus paid parental leave (on top of the current 14 weeks) for public sector employees where leave is shared more equally between partners.
This will apply where each parent takes at least 12 weeks parental leave, and exhausts any paid parental leave offered by their employers.
Public sector employees whose partners work outside the public sector will be eligible for the bonus leave provided these conditions are met, and employees who are single parents will receive the full 16 weeks of paid parental leave.
Third, the NSW Government will extend paid parental leave to long-term or permanent out-of-home carers.
Finally, the NSW Government will continue to review its workplaces to make sure they provide appropriate facilities to cater for women.
For example, a recent review of Fire and Rescue NSW established that 243 of 334 fire stations across the State required capital investment to ensure they had appropriate facilities for female employees.
To address this, the NSW Government will invest $51 million over 10 years to increase women’s participation in the Fire and Rescue NSW workforce and enhance workplace safety, including upgrades and installing new female bathrooms at fire stations across the State.
Access to appropriate amenities at work is essential for women to feel they are a valued and respected part of the team.
This proposal will not only improve the workplace conditions for current female firefighters, but help more women feel comfortable pursuing a career in firefighting.
The NSW Government will embed women’s economic opportunity across its policy making systems and processes, ensuring that women’s health, safety and participation are front of mind across all areas of public policy development.
The NSW Government will also continue to set positive examples for the private sector and engage in advocacy for improvements across all parts of society.
The NSW Government will require all government agencies to develop women’s action plans, outlining a strategy to improve women’s economic opportunity within their own workforce.
The Treasurer will request that these plans be reviewed by the Audit Office of NSW every two years, following discussion on appropriate scope and approach of this review.
The NSW Government will also introduce a requirement for government agencies to produce women’s impact assessments in the development process for new policies.
These assessments will ensure that important design features that affect women are not overlooked as policies are developed.
For example, new public infrastructure should be designed with adequate lighting to make spaces safe at night, and new hospitals and precincts should be designed with adequate childcare services nearby.
Details like these can be overlooked without a process to ensure consideration of the impact new policies can have on women.
The NSW Government will demonstrate its commitment to policy design that deliberately considers the needs of parents by building extended-hours childcare centres at hospitals that are currently under development, including the Westmead Precinct, Bankstown/Lidcombe, Shellharbour Hospital and Shoalhaven Hospital.
This will help support the workforce participation of all genders in these hospitals, enabling more doctors, nurses, allied health and support staff to access childcare that suits their work needs.
The NSW Government will also review its other existing and planned hospital developments to consider other opportunities to ensure hospital staff have access to childcare facilities that suit their working needs.
With a $110.4 billion infrastructure pipeline and extensive service delivery function, the NSW Government is well-placed to use procurement relationships to influence the supplier market.
The NSW Government will encourage its large government suppliers to support women across their own workforces, leveraging the buying power of the NSW Government to promote equitable employment practices.
The NSW Government will also develop a certification mechanism for women-led businesses, as well as track and report on the proportion of women-led businesses in government procurement.
The NSW Government will also continue to engage with the Commonwealth Government to support improvements to national leave arrangements.
This will ensure all workers across the country benefit from the support they need to balance work and life.
This engagement includes encouraging the Commonwealth Government to pay superannuation on periods of paid parental leave, as well as the provision of 10 days of paid domestic and family violence leave.
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