FSC calls for legal consistency for women’s wealth

4 September 2015

Governments are making it unnecessarily complex for Australian employers to cut their female employees a better deal with respect to achieving greater equality in the area of retirement outcomes, according to the Financial Services Council (FSC).

Barely a week out from Money Management's Women's Wealth breakfast in Sydney, the FSC's Senior Policy Manager for Superannuation, Blake Briggs has written a column to be published in the forthcoming edition of Super Review outlining the barriers currently confronting employers.

Discussing positive initiatives put in place by employers such as Rice Warner and ANZ, he said there was a need to address impediments and inconsistencies.

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"A common message the FSC has heard from member organisations who are contemplating such policies [assisting women] is that developing and implementing measures to support female employees is unnecessarily complex and expensive due to legal barriers," he writes.

"The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA) creates barriers to addressing inequality. Unhelpfully, the Human Right Commission has offered different solutions under different provisions in the SDA to allow positive packages to be implemented," Briggs said.

He said that while the supportive role of the Human Rights Commission should not be understated, the legal framework created complexity and uncertainty that would deter an ‘average' employer from attempting to do the right thing.

"For example, some organisations have secured exemptions from the law under section 44 of the legislation, whilst others have been able to implement ‘special measures' under section 7D(1) of the same legislation," Brig said.

"Inconsistency and complexity in how the law applies to similar proposals is one example of the barriers that employers face that may deter them from undertaking such reforms in their workplace."

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