On the 4th of November the Fair Work Commission President Ross released a statement on Occupational Segregation and Gender Undervaluation after the Full Bench handed down a decision in Aged Care Work Value Case.

Occupational segregation has remained consistent for the past 20 years with the average remuneration in female dominated organisations lower than in male dominated organisations. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has reported data that also shows that the representation of women steadily declines with seniority so that most senior levels of management are heavily male-dominated. The November 2022 decision included data statistics from WGEA’s latest reporting period which found that health care and social assistance are 79% female dominated and education and training 64%.

The November 2022 decision set out a summary of the applications, an overview of the legislative framework, submissions and evidence to vary the following 3 awards to increase the minimum wages of aged care sector workers;

Aged Care Award 2010, Nurses Award 2020 and Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010.

The process for consideration and review of the applications will be in 3 stages, with the November 2022 decision constituting Stage 1 and the Full Bench deciding that an increase to the modern award minimum wages for direct care workers was justified. Stage 2 will look at submissions and evidence on whether making the increases is necessary to achieve the modern awards objective and Stage 3 will look at the classification definitions and whether wage adjustments are justified by work value reasons for employees not dealt with in Stage 1.

The Aged Care Decision provides evidence as to why gender -based undervaluation occurs in Australia. Reasons such as occupational segregation, social norms, gender stereotypes and historical legacies have all contributed to this issue. What this means in the workplace is that skills, qualifications and performance are overlooked because of gender. The proper assessment of work value in female dominated industries has been largely impacted by cultural assumptions such as women’s role as parents and carers with their creative, nurturing and caring skills not being recognised.

 The Full Bench will delve further into ‘work value’ reasons and the level of skill and responsibility in these roles to determine if there should be a variation to the Award.

Talk to us