CANBERRA – The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, an Australian Government statutory agency charged with promoting and improving gender equality in Australian workplaces has announced that the national gender pay gap has dropped to 13.4%, a decline of 0.6 percentage points over the last six months.

Using the latest Average Weekly Earnings seasonally adjusted series data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has calculated the national gender pay gap as 13.4% for full-time employees, a difference on average of $242.20 per week between women and men.

Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said she was pleased to see a drop in the gender pay gap and believes it may reflect labour market volatility caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I understand that this result is, in part, due to an increase in the number of men in lower-paid full-time employment. After all the economic shocks and uncertainties we lived through in 2020, it is very welcome news to have more people in full-time jobs. It is also a very positive sign that our economic recovery is underway.

“It does not, however, reflect any underlying structural changes to women’s overall position in the workforce. I expect to see more labour market volatility over the next 12-24 months as the nation settles into a new post-COVID-19 employment environment. As the nation’s recovery progresses, we may well see male wages increase with little or no positive improvement in the wages of women. If this happens, it is feasible that the gender pay gap will increase.

“It is also important to highlight that this figure does not consider the number of women and men who are under-employed, that is those who have left the workforce or have had their hours reduced.

“Despite this positive result, Australian employers still need to ensure gender equality remains a top business priority. There are indications that the momentum towards gender equality in our workplaces is stalling. The challenge we now face is to ensure that all employers take immediate action to remedy this and reverse the indicative trend.

“I appreciate that 2020 was a very difficult year for many Australian businesses but we cannot allow the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to be an excuse for inaction and inertia. Our economic recovery depends on women and men having genuine choice and equal access to re-engage and fully participate in the workforce. In fact, the business case is very clear. Improving gender equality outcomes in your business will improve your company’s performance, productivity and profitability.

“Achieving workplace gender equality is not just a commercial imperative. It is also one of the most effective ways to close our nation’s stubborn gender pay gap. Australian employers play a crucial role in this process. I urge all employers to pick up the pace and take action on pay equity to ensure the work of all female employees is fairly valued and rewarded, as is the case for men,” said Ms Lyons.

National Gender Pay Gap

The national gender pay gap measures the difference between the average weekly full-time base salary earnings of women and men, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.

Key facts

  • The national gender pay gap is 13.4%.
  • On average, women working full-time earned $1562.00 while men working full-time earned $1804.20.
  • Full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men is $242.20.