Business Advice

Pay gap narrows but women still $26,000 worse off … Bunnings UK to get worse before it gets better … HR manager penalised for role in $500,000 underpayment

Dominic Powell /

A fresh report from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has shown the gender pay gap to be trending downwards, but female workers are still paid on average $26,527 less than men per year in across every surveyed industry and occupation, reports the ABC.

The biggest gap between male and female workers was found in the financial services sector, with a pay gap of 31.9%. Next highest was the real estate sector at 31.4%, while the smallest gap was in the public administration and safety sector, at 9.2%.

However, a 10.9% rise was recorded in the number of employers choosing to analyse their pay data in order to iron out gender pay gap issues.

With men still holding the majority of board and management positions, WGEA director Libby Lyons told the ABC there’s still a long way to go.

“More employers than ever are prioritising gender pay equity as a business imperative. But in Australia today, men still out-earn women in every industry and across all occupations,” Lyons said.

“This is not about women’s choices. Whether you are a manager, a scientist, a butcher, a baker or even a TV presenter, there is a gender pay gap favouring men. While I am pleased to report such great progress, our gender equality indicators tell us there is much more to be done.”

Bunnings UK continues to slide, warns Wesfarmers

After running an $89 million loss over 2017, Wesfarmers has warned its UK Bunnings operations will continue to slide before a recovery is in sight, reports Fairfax.

“The customer and community response to the new Bunnings branded stores has been pleasing and they are delivering good sales growth,” incoming chief executive Rob Scott told the Wesfarmers’ annual general meeting in Perth.

“Losses are however expected to increase in the 2018 financial year as trading remains challenging for Homebase and as we progress the conversion from Homebase to Bunnings.”

The company was careful to stress the ten converted Bunnings stores were seeing strong sales growth, while the 242 existing Homebase stores were not.

HR manager cops $20,000 fine after $500,000 in underpayments discovered

A Chinese restaurant in New South Wales has been fined close to $400,000 after the Fair Work Ombudsman discovered it to be “systematically exploiting” 85 workers to the tune of $583,688 in underpayments.

The New Shanghai Charlestown restaurant faced the Federal Circuit court, which found it had engaged in conduct that saw the workers underpaid by more than half a million dollars in 16 months between 2013 and 2014.

Despite claiming she was acting under the direction of the company’s owner at all times, the restaurant’s HR director copped a $21,760 penalty from the Federal Court, with Judge Bromwich finding she had “acted in her own interests” and was a knowing participant in the underpayments.

“There is nothing wrong with sending the message that an employee should indeed resign if that is the only alternative to continuing to participate knowingly in illegal activity, ideally coupled with reporting the conduct, in a case such as this, to the FWO,” Bromwich said.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said in a statement that business owners trying to run operations on the back of exploiting vulnerable workers were “playing with fire”.

“We are committed to actively seeking them out, dismantling their unlawful business models, making sure the public are aware of the actions and ensuring they are penalised for their conduct. Business models based on exploitation of employees to gain an unfair commercial advantage are unacceptable,” she said.

SmartCompany has contacted the business for comment.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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