The Abbott government is pushing ahead with plans to water down workplace gender reporting requirements as part of a red tape cutting exercise.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz has yet to release the regulation but a coalition of business and women’s groups are up in arms over the proposed changes.
A copy of the workplace gender equality regulation exposure draft, obtained by AAP, shows the government will subject only 700 of the largest businesses (with more than 1000 employees) to the minimum standards for gender reporting indicators.
Currently companies with more than 100 employees are covered, totalling 13,000 companies and 2.5 million women.
The government wants to stop collecting data on occupational levels and will give companies the option to have their data kept confidential.
The previous Labor government introduced gender reporting requirements on pay, recruitment, retention and promotions in 2012.
Women on Boards executive director Claire Braund said the reporting requirements were not onerous and small businesses were not affected.
“Gender is not a red tape issue,” she told reporters.
An increase of women’s workplace participation would provide a 13 per cent increase to gross domestic product a year.
Gender reporting costs business $9 million annually but equates to only $692 per company, Ms Braund said.
She said the collection of data on occupational levels was important.
“It’s all very well to say you’ve got 50 per cent women working in your organisation but if they’re all on the checkout or being secretaries or doing menial jobs – that’s not a true reflection of women’s workforce participation,” Ms Braund said.
The Australian Greens will attempt to disallow the regulation in the Senate.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters said if gender reporting was weakened it would be a major setback for equal pay.
“It’s shameful that women in Australia earn on average 17.5 per cent less than men,” she said.