The Abbott government has backed down on plans to dilute workplace gender reporting requirements following pressure from women’s groups and business.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz has announced the current reporting arrangements for companies with more than 100 employees will stay in place.
However, fewer companies will now have to comply with gender reporting minimum standards – composition of workforce, equal pay, flexible work arrangements and sexual harassment and discrimination.
The standards will now only apply to companies with more than 500 employees from October 1, 2014 and they can choose to comply with one or more.
Senator Abetz said the government will consult with industry and peak bodies about streamlining reporting over the next six months.
The results of the consultations will be announced later this year and the changes will start from April 1 2015.
“We want to make sure that we get this right and do not force new, onerous requirements that do not achieve the stated objectives,” he said.
Senator Abetz said it was vital that effective data was collected.
Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the Abbott government was intent on pleasing “big business buddies”.
“The government’s plans mean that in a year, companies would have to provide less information about gender inequity, and from October fewer businesses would have to do anything to redress it,” she said.
Women on Boards spokeswoman Claire Braund conceded that the minimum standards may not be the process in which to “drive change” on gender equity in the workplace.