Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill: Pay secrecy clauses banned

A mammoth new workplace Bill would ban pay secrecy clauses so companies can’t prevent their staff from discussing salaries with each other.

The legislation has been signed off by federal cabinet and is aimed to help low income workers negotiate higher pay packets and better conditions.

Plans are in place for Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke to put the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill before parliament next week.

The new rules will put an end to pay secrecy clauses that stop employees at a company from discussing how they much get paid among each other.

“These clauses have been used to conceal gender pay discrepancies,” Mr Burke said in a statement.

“Banning them will improve transparency, reduce the risk of gender pay discrimination and empower women to ask their employers for pay rises.”

Two new Fair Work Commission panels would be established under the legislation – one on the care and community sector and one on pay equity.

These would make gender equity a central aim of the Fair Work Act as well as create a statutory equal remuneration principle.

The Bill could also include multi-employer bargaining rights that would allow workers in similar businesses to be treated as one unit when negotiating pay and conditions.

Mr Burke said the overall aim of the legislation was to make it easier for Fair Work to “order pay increases for workers in low-paid female-dominated industries”.

“These measures add to legislation we have already introduced to establish 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave,” he said in the statement.

“The government will announce further measures from the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill before its introduction later this month.”

However, Liberal senator Simon Birmingham said more detail was needed to work out how effective the changes would be.

“We have real concerns about the drive towards areas of essentially collective bargaining that Labor is seeking to pursue in the way in which they are presenting some of these possible changes,” he said.

“We haven’t seen the detail of the legislation and so we will work through that.

“But the real test for the government is that they claimed at their Jobs and Skills Summit they were getting consensus and support across business and we’ll be looking to test with the business community whether they have actually achieved that consensus.”

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