Green senator Larissa Waters introduces bill to nullify secrecy rules on pay rates
Green senator Larissa Waters introduces bill to nullify secrecy rules on pay rates Rob Wright

Greens target clauses forcing secrecy on gender pay

WORKERS would be allowed to publicly talk about their pay rates if a Greens bill introduced in parliament this week gains wider support.

Queensland Senator Larissa Waters introduced the bill on Thursday, in an effort to reduce the gender pay gap by nullifying secrecy rules on pay rates.

It follows a recent report from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency showing the gender pay gap was 18.8% last year.

Women, on average, took home about $300 less a week than men, the report said.

The agency also released data showing 32% of women aged 18-24 were enrolled in a degree, while only 25% of men of the same age were studying.

While neither Labor nor the Coalition have revealed their positions on the bill, if successful it would render employment contract "gag clauses" ineffective.

Sen Waters said in parliament the clauses could hide discrimination and bias in the workplace, by forcing employers to justify salary decisions.

"This bill would make sure that workers are allowed to tell their colleagues what they are paid if they wish to, without fear of retaliation from their boss," she said.

"It would not force anyone to discuss their pay, but it would make sure that bosses could not pressure their employees to stay quiet, or take any action against them if they do discuss their pay."

The bill would apply to all new employment contracts signed by workers whose employers were covered by the federal industrial relations powers.

But it could also apply to existing contracts, rendering the gag clauses already in place meaningless.