Equal Pay Day a reminder of the wage disparity suffered by Australian women
The annual Equal Pay Day event has highlighted the wage disparity suffered by working women and its impact on their retirement savings.
Equal Pay Day is held after the number of extra days women would have to work following the end of the financial year in order to earn the same amount that men earn in twelve months. This year’s Equal Pay Day was held on 8 September.
The national equal pay gap has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades. Currently, the equal pay gap is 16.2%, meaning that women earn on average $261.10 less per week than men.
The wage disparity – along with the over-representation of women in part-time and unpaid work – also has a significant impact on women’s retirement savings.
In 2015, the average super balance at retirement for women was $138,150 but was $292,500 on average for men. Based on modelling from Industry Super Australia, that current $154,000 gap will increase to $170,000 by 2030.
IEUA-QNT members used Equal Pay Day as an opportunity to lobby the Prime Minister and Federal MPs, urging them to implement recommendations from the recent Senate Inquiry into Achieving economic security for women in retirement.
Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) General Secretary Ros McLennan said despite decades of legislative, industrial and social advancement, women are still far behind and vulnerable at the time of their retirement.
Ms McLennan said the federal government could make immediate improvements to women’s retirement savings by increasing the compulsory employer superannuation contribution from 9.5 to 12 per cent. Increases to this contribution rate have been stalled since 2014, following a freeze put in place by the former Abbott government.
Other measures Ms McLennan suggested to reduce disparity, included:
- Increasing compulsory employer contributions for women at a level that is two per cent higher than the mandatory rate for men and amending sex discrimination legislation to make these extra payments possible for women.
- Introducing progressive taxation of superannuation, based on marginal rates minus a rebate, that will address the inequitable nature of current tax settings to improve women’s retirement incomes – particularly for those on lower incomes.
- Removing the current exemption for employer superannuation payments to employees earning less than $450 per month, as these employees are mostly female.
“Our federal government must put politics aside and make sensible policy decisions to support women who work hard all their lives but still retire into poverty,” she said.