When the Authority can get involved
Any party involved in a pay equity claim must act in good faith, and follow the agreed bargaining process in order to reach a resolution. In circumstances where this is not possible, they can ask the Authority for help. The Authority can:
- help facilitate pay equity bargaining
- provide a determination in a pay equity case
- apply a penalty to anyone who breaches their pay equity obligations.
Facilitating pay equity claims
The Authority can take a facilitation role in pay equity bargaining, similar to the role it has in collective bargaining.
The Authority can agree to facilitate pay equity bargaining if:
- it will be useful to help resolve the claim
- a party involved in the claim has failed to meet good faith principles, and this has either stalled the claim, or undermined the bargaining process
- other efforts, including mediation, haven’t resolved the issue.
The Authority can facilitate disputes about:
- whether an employee’s work is the same as, or substantially similar to, work that is the subject of a pay equity claim raised by a union with their employer — to determine whether or not the employee is covered by the union’s claim
- whether work performed by others is comparable work, for the purposes of the assessment required
- whether proposed remuneration no longer differentiates between male and female employees for the purposes of settling a pay equity claim.
There are 2 types of dispute that can only be referred to the Authority for facilitation if all parties agree. These are:
- a dispute as to whether a pay equity claim is arguable
- a dispute as to whether exceptional circumstances exist that would allow an employee — who is already covered by a pay equity claim — to raise a claim as an individual when they would normally not be able to.
Making a determination
If parties involved in a pay equity claim cannot agree on a solution together, they can ask the Authority to make a determination in the case on their behalf.
Before the Authority can make a determination, it will first consider whether both parties have tried mediation or facilitation to solve the dispute. If not, the Authority may recommend they do this before reaching a determination in the case.
Some pay equity issues have specific conditions and suggested processes that apply when determining a claim, including applications to:
- determine whether an employee can raise a pay equity claim despite already being covered by a pay equity settlement
- determine whether work is undervalued
- fix remuneration
- fix a pay equity review process
- remedy unfair bargaining.
The Authority will follow the relevant process and act in good faith with all parties while working to reach a determination.
Breaches of pay equity agreements
The Authority can issue a compliance order to enforce terms of a pay equity agreement, and may choose to impose a penalty on any party not acting in good faith. Penalties can be up to:
- $10,000 for an individual
- $20,000 for an organisation or company.