A skills-assessment toolkit developed at UNSW has helped secure pay rises of up to 45% for 150,000 workers in the community sector, the bulk of them low-paid women.
The lack of equality in pay and employment is still deeply entrenched. It’s not only an equity issue: unequal pay and lack of women’s participation in the workforce have been identified by the Productivity Commission as significant factors holding back the economy.
Research carried out by UNSW and funded by the New Zealand government led to the creation of a revolutionary toolkit designed to help identify skills in jobs where women are concentrated.
Called Spotlight, the toolkit was developed by a team led by Associate Professors Anne Junor and Ian Hampson from UNSW Australia Business School. Its creation allowed a more precise measurement of the intangible skills required in women’s service jobs and therefore a fairer pay system.
Associate Professor Junor was one of four academic expert witnesses in the first national Equal Remuneration test case in the Fair Work Commission.
The testimony by Junor helped provide the evidence for the Full Bench of the workplace arbiter to recommend pay increases of between 19% and 45% to 150,000 social and community services workers, the vast majority of them women.
No equal remuneration case had succeeded under federal workplace relations law since the 1970s, and this was the first to be based on skill undervaluation.
In 2012, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the government would set aside $3 billion of Commonwealth money to fund the pay rises.