Coalition to examine Labor's pay gap plan
A Labor plan to force companies to publicly disclose how much they pay women compared to men will be closely examined by the coalition.
The sentiment comes as a leading business group has expressed concerns the proposal could heap extra regulations on Australian companies.
Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer says the policy is an "interesting idea" but she isn't sure it would be effective and believes it may cause division.
"We think it's best though to unite people rather than divide them and we have to be very conscious of the regulatory burden that would be imposed on businesses," she told ABC radio on Monday.
The opposition on Sunday announced the election commitment to make Australian companies with more than 1000 employees disclose their gender pay gaps.
Similar public reporting is underway in Belgium and the United Kingdom.
Ms O'Dwyer said it was "early days" in terms of overseas data, but the government would closely examine the results.
The gender pay gap has hit a record low of 14.5 per cent under the coalition, according to reporting by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the minister said.
"It's still too high but it's certainly lower than it was and we need to look at practical measures for how we can get it lower," she said.
Ms O'Dwyer will be delivering the first economic security statement for women in coming months, which will address practical measures that can address the issue.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said more employers than ever are taking action on the gender pay gap, though there remains work to do.
But businesses will be closely looking at Labor's plan, he said, with ACCI concerned Labor's plans could be burdensome.
"Employers already have substantial reporting obligations in this area, so we need to think carefully about whether or not we should add further regulation," he said.
A Shorten Labor government would also change the Fair Work Act to prohibit pay secrecy clauses, which prevent employees from discussing their salaries.
Mr Pearson said there were reasons why pay may be kept confidential, including employers' wishes.
"We would be wary about moves to remove that confidentiality because it does risk people being put under pressure to reveal their pay when they may not want to for very good reasons," he said.
© AAP 2018