25 August 2020
With Equal Pay Day approaching on Friday, ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to extending funding that allows workers in the feminised community service sector to receive fair pay for their crucial work which people are relying on to get them through the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, the peak body for the community sector, said:
“We know that women are suffering the worst economic impacts of this pandemic and, as the WGEA recently confirmed, they still earn, on average, 14% less than men for full time paid work.
“The community service sector is made up of 80% women, who deliver crucial services, including domestic violence, mental health and homelessness services.
“The services these predominantly women workers provide are crucial for people to get through this pandemic and to rebuild their lives.
“But the Federal Government has yet to commit to renewing funding that ensures staff in the community service sector are fairly paid.
“Cutting funding for community sector workers would mean less people to help those who reach out in times of great need and would make the Gender Pay Gap even worse.
“In the lead up to Equal Pay Day on August 28, we’re calling on the Federal Government to commit to fair funding for equal pay in the community service sector.
“The Federal Government must not take Australia backwards by scrapping funding designed to tackle the gender pay gap, especially when women are suffering the worst financial impacts of this crisis.
“In the lead up to Equal Pay Day, the Federal Government should commit to fair funding for community services to help tackle the gender pay gap and ensure our communities are receiving the supports they need, especially in crisis,” Dr Goldie said.
In 2012 the Fair Work Commission made a landmark decision that addresses the gendered undervaluation of work performed in much of the community services sector. As a result, wages increased by up to 45% over 8 years, and most governments across Australia, including the Federal Government, provided additional funding to ensure that community sector organisations could address the gender based inequality in wages paid to workers in our sector, and maintain essential services to communities.
Since 2012, the Federal Government has delivered additional funding (in the form of ERO supplementation payments) to certain organisations whose grants program commenced prior to 2012, to meet the higher wage costs that they have incurred as a result of the 2012 Equal Remuneration Order (the pay equity decision). Organisations whose grants program commenced since 2012 have had the costs of meeting the ERO factored into their grant, or were expected to tender prices that reflected the increases they would be facing in wages costs relating to the ERO.
The solution to this problem is simple – the Commonwealth must ensure that the base rate of grants where ERO supplementation currently applies permanently increase so as to incorporate the current rate of ERO supplementation.
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