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gender pay gap at a twenty year high, with women expected to struggle in retirement

Image: Trans Goat via Wiki Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Image: Trans Goat via Wiki Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

With the latest claims being that a whopping $1 million may be required for a comfortable retirement, experts warn that women will have to work harder than their male counterparts to ensure a sufficient superannuation, with the latest statistics showing that there is still a disturbingly large gap between the earnings of men and women in Australia.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gender gap in Australia has risen to 18.2%, which is at a 20 year high, and equates to a $283.20 difference between the average weekly earnings of men and women in Australia. To put this into perspective, the average weekly wage for a man working full time in Australia is $1559.10, however a woman would only earn $1275.90 for the same amount of work.

‘Overall, women earn significantly less than men, which has significant impact on their financial security over their lifetimes,’ says the latest media release for the WGEA.

The Greens have released a new bill, due to be entered into parliament next month, which intends to put an end to the ‘salary secrecy’ imposed by employers. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the bill ‘aims to put an end to so-called “gag clauses” that prevent private sector employees telling other people what they earn.’

This means employees in the private sector will be allowed to speak freely about their pay, and hopefully any gender-based differences will then be brought to light.

‘Pay secrecy can help hide discrimination, unconscious bias and bad decision making, where two people are paid differently for doing the same job,’ said Greens spokeswoman Larissa Waters.

This bill seems to be a move in the right direction to close the pay gap, but women are being warned by experts that they will face a hurdle when saving superannuation. The gender pay gap is still forcing woman to rely on their male partners when it comes to life after retirement, especially since it has been estimated that at least $1 million is needed to live comfortably.

National Australia Bank head of client management, Lara Bourguignon, told the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘If the growing public awareness of the forecasts that a super balance of $1 million could be required to fund a comfortable retirement is causing people angst then they should find out if they will have enough to retire on….We want all Australians to enter the retirement phase of life feeling confident and prepared. More than half of those surveyed are still concerned they do not have enough to fund their retirement,’ Ms Bourguignon said. ‘Women in particular are still unsure [about] how to effectively plan for the future.’

Alarming research by the Australian Human Rights Commission confirm that the current superannuation payout for woman is a third of that for men, being only $37 000 for woman compared to $110 000 for men, demonstrating that women will certainly face a bigger challenge when it comes to retirement.

Hopefully the new bill proposed by the Greens will be a positive move in the fight to close the gender pay gap, with Senator Waters saying, ‘the gender pay gap is worst where pay is kept secret and women often find out they are being paid less than their male colleagues after years on the job,’ with the new bill set to grant employees the opportunity to discuss gender pay bias in the workplace.

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