This information is only relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – the WA public sector, sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations. Find out more on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page.
If you operate or are employed by a Pty Ltd business – you can find information on this topic on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
The Industrial Relations Act 1979 (IR Act) provides an equal remuneration jurisdiction for the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC) that applies to both the private and public sectors.
The WAIRC is able to make an equal remuneration order on application from a range of parties, including an individual employee or group of employees. The WAIRC is also required to issue an equal remuneration principle as part of the State Wage order each year.
Equal remuneration is defined to mean equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal or comparable value.
Equal remuneration orders
An application for an equal remuneration order may be made to the WAIRC by any of the following:
- an employee (or a group of employees) to be covered by the order;
- a union;
- an employer organisation;
- the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA;
- the Minister for Industrial Relations; and
- the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity.
Individual employers are not able to apply for an equal remuneration order. However, this does not prevent an employer organisation from making such an application.
On receiving an application, if the WAIRC is satisfied that the employee does not receive equal remuneration, it must make an equal remuneration order.
An equal remuneration order may relate to any action that the WAIRC considers appropriate, including (but not limited to):
- reclassifying work;
- establishing new career paths;
- implementing changes to incremental pay scales;
- providing for an increase in remuneration rates, including:
- minimum rates of pay in awards, industrial agreements and enterprise orders; and
- new allowances; andreassessing definitions and descriptions of work to properly reflect the value of the work; and
- an equal remuneration order may introduce equal remuneration measures immediately, or progressively in stages.
The IR Act prohibits an employer reducing an employee’s remuneration because an equal remuneration order, or an application for an order, has been made in relation to the employee.
Statement of principles
The WAIRC is required to issue an equal remuneration principle as part of the State Wage order each year. Since 2019, the WAIRC has included a principle for equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal or comparable value in the annual State Wage order.
The WAIRC must apply the statement of principles when determining whether an employee receives equal remuneration, and in determining the terms of any equal remuneration order. The equal remuneration provisions in the IR Act prevail over the statement of principles to the extent of any inconsistency.
Interaction with other types of applications, awards, agreements and orders
An application for an equal remuneration order cannot be made to the WAIRC if there are proceedings for an ‘alternative remedy’ in progress. An alternative remedy is a right to a remedy under the IR Act or other legislation to secure equal remuneration.
Similarly, an employee or organisation (union or employer association) that has applied for an equal remuneration order cannot commence proceedings for an alternative remedy while an application for an equal remuneration order is being dealt with by the WAIRC. However this does not restrict a union or employer association from commencing proceedings to:
- vary an award;
- register an industrial agreement;
- initiate bargaining for an industrial agreement;
- apply for an order requesting the WAIRC arbitrate part of an industrial agreement; or
- apply for an enterprise order.
Interaction with awards, agreements and other orders
The WAIRC must not register an industrial agreement, make an award, or make an order (including a General Order) that prohibits or restricts the making of an application for an equal remuneration order, or is inconsistent with, or prohibits or restricts, the application of an equal remuneration order.