Fair Work Act amendments a crucial step towards improving women’s workforce participation and addressing the workforce crisis in the ECEC sector
2 December 2022 – Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative welcomes amendments to the Fair Work Act in the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 that enhance gender equality and support multi-employer bargaining in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.
Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill said, “Some amendments to the Fair Work Act reflect discussions at the recent Jobs and Skills Summit – including the urgent need to improve women’s workforce participation and investment in more ECEC workers.
“Improved wages in the ECEC sector would complement the imminent increase to the Child Care Subsidy rate in July 2023 to help working women and families better afford quality childcare options. They are also key to solving the workforce crisis, which is necessary to reform our current early learning system.
“However, the amendments to the Fair Work Act do not deal with a key reason wages in the ECEC sector are low, which is a result of the way the ECEC sector is funded.
“The Fair Work Act changes that support multi-employer bargaining are an important step to improving wages in the female-dominated ECEC sector.
“It is, however, likely that a campaign to increase ECEC wages using multi-employer bargaining would be protracted as ECEC service providers would be reluctant to increase fees for parents, and this may lower morale in the sector.
“The Federal and state governments, ECEC service providers, unions and business leaders need to work together to determine a way to fund an increase in wages for workers in the ECEC sector without passing on the cost of a wage increase to parents,” Mr Weatherill said.