Big Four united on removal of pay secrecy clauses

  • By Zilla Efrat

CommBank of Australia (CBA) has become the last of the big banks to remove pay secrecy clauses from employment contacts.

According to the Australian Financial Review, the bank told staff on Friday that from April 11 workers would be free to talk about their remuneration with each other to improve pay equity but warned that employees should not “pressure” others to talk about it.

Last week, Westpac announced that it would allow staff to have open discussions about their salaries. Similarly, ANZ, NAB and the Reserve Bank of Australia have also removed pay secrecy obligations for their workforces.

In a report published in March, the Finance Sector Union (FSU) said CBA’s pay secrecy requirements cost its workers upwards of $500 million dollars each year.

“CBA’s announcement is long overdue and makes it the last of the Big Four banks to recognise the role that secrecy plays in reinforcing pay inequity,” says FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano.

“This announcement by the bank will give workers the freedom to highlight inequities in pay when they are uncovered without fear of losing their jobs. That is an important first step but will not in and of itself drive down the 26.9 per cent gender pay gap in our industry.

“The FSU recognises that the big Four Banks have now set the industry standard. We call on the rest of the industry to follow suit and take this opportunity to remove pay secrecy across the entire finance industry.”

The FSU says the abolition of secrecy clauses is only the first step in eliminating the gender pay gap. “The FSU is prepared to work alongside the CBA to take the next step and introduce a disputes procedure that provides their workforce with a mechanism to challenge inequities in pay when they are uncovered.”