Despite the progress made towards gender equality in Australia over more than a century, women continue to face large income, superannuation and gender pay gaps.
She’s Price(d)less analyses the contributing drivers of the gender pay gap to explain why it exists, and where it most needs to be addressed. This report builds on our critical work with the Diversity Council Australia and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Australia’s gender pay gap
The conversation around the gender pay gap in Australia isn’t new, and there’s still a long way to go.
The causes stem from culturally ingrained social norms that produce economic and social inequities. This includes a persistent expectation that women should perform most of the unpaid caring duties at the expense of, or in addition to, their careers.
Our research shows Australian men do more paid work than women, but women do most of the unpaid caregiver work — housework, home cooking, in-home childcare and supporting elderly and disabled relatives.
And, when the value of unpaid caring work is added to the value of paid work, we’ve estimated that women do more than half of all the work performed in Australia. This is based on a combination of formal hours worked (from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey) and survey results on the number of hours women and men spend doing housework and unpaid caring work.
Unpaid caring work clearly provides a value to society, yet those doing the work are missing out financially with lower or part-time salaries, lower superannuation balances and fewer career opportunities.
To analyse drivers of the gender pay gap, KPMG created a joint report with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Diversity Council Australia – She’s Price(d)less.
The report found that one-third of the difference between male and female pay outcomes can be attributed to time spent as home carers, including full-time career interruptions (like working part-time, to be a personal carer the remainder of the time). It also includes those who have paused their careers completely to become full-time carers.
Carers in Australia versus overseas
Our failure to recognise the value of unpaid work continues to contribute towards women’s inequality. While Australian men do little more than half the unpaid work of women, in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, men do around three-quarters of the unpaid work of women.
What’s more, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Australia’s ranking of women’s economic participation and opportunity has fallen from 42nd in the world in 2016 to 70th in 20211
To reduce this gender inequality, and build on the reforms of the last few decades, KPMG recommends the Federal Government considers the following actions:
Introduce a Carers’ Income Tax Offset (CARITO) to be credited against any income tax payable upon caregivers returning to work after caring for children, people with a disability or elderly parents, in recognition of the value of their unpaid work.
Provide greater clarity, either through amending the Sex Discrimination Act or by developing clear guidance, to ensure employers are able to enact affirmative policies to provide higher superannuation payments and other workplace benefits to their female employees.
Include Superannuation Guarantee contributions in the Commonwealth paid parental leave scheme.
Increase the number of weeks of paid parental leave to 26 weeks over a six-year period, with an equality supplement of two weeks where the parents agree to a more equal sharing of the leave.
The October 2022 Federal Budget confirmed plans to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks, with the rollout starting at 20 weeks in 2023-24 through to full implementation in 2026-27. Read KPMG's budget analysis
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Other reports in the gender equity series
- Addressing the gender superannuation gap
- Parental equality and unpaid work reforms
- Further investment in the Child Care Subsidy
- The Child Care Subsidy: Increasing support for caregivers
- A new deal for women pensioners who rent
- Achieving a better deal for working mothers
- Ending workforce discrimination against women