In The Daily Fix, Crikey taps into the wisdom of experts and community leaders to find solutions to problems. Today: wage theft.
It’s not a stretch to say that gender inequality persists in the workplace, and it isn’t changing any time soon. On top of the gender pay gap (which exists across all occupations and industries), women are over-represented in part-time and casual work, often due to the unpaid caring roles they are expected to undertake.
The underpayment of wages is just another compounding factor that must be seen as a gendered issue that intersects with other forms of inequality.
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The sheer extent of non-compliance by employers tells us there are profound problems with the enforcement of wage laws and entitlements across all areas of work in Australia, problems that disproportionately impact women — in particular, young and/or migrant women who often rely on minimum wage, modern award systems and the gig economy.
We need lawmakers, politicians, businesses and regulators to see wage theft as a gendered issue which requires an intersectional strategy.
We need policy and legislation to break down the systemic barriers that create “feminised” sectors and that fail to address gender inequality in the workplace. We also need better wage transparency and stronger legal protections for workers to properly hold businesses to account.
Michelle Phillips is the CEO of the YWCA.