The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 passed through the Senate on 22 November 2012.

This bill amends the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 and renames it as the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency will now be renamed the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. This change reflects the Act’s new focus on both women and men.

Rather than reporting on workplace programs, relevant employers (those with over 100 employees) will now be required to report against gender equality indicators. Some of the gender equality indicators that employers will have to report on include the gender composition of the workforce; the gender composition of governing bodies; equal remuneration between women and men; availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees and to working arrangements supporting employees with family and caring responsibilities.

There are also new consequences for non-compliance in reporting including the ability of naming the employer in a report to the Minister or in a newspaper. It can also affect the eligibility to compete for contracts under the Commonwealth procurement framework and they may not be eligible for Commonwealth grants or other financial assistance. The Agency will no longer have the capacity to waive reporting requirements employers.

For the transition reporting period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013, relevant employers will be required to prepare a public report which sets out the employer’s workplace profile and to comply with limited parts of the new framework.

From the reporting period commencing on 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, the requirements of the Workplace Gender Equality Act are fully operational. A relevant employer must prepare and lodge a public report containing information relating to the employer and to the gender equality indicators.

For further information see www.eowa.gov.au