Westpac abolishes staff pay secrecy rules

  • By Zilla Efrat

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) has welcomed Westpac’s announcement that it will now allow staff to have open discussions about their salaries as part of a drive to improve equality for women in its workplace.

But FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano says Westpac’s plan to eliminate pay secrecy clauses is a pleasing first step in driving an improvement in workplace culture. But she adds that the move will not in and of itself drive down the 26.9 per cent full-time gender pay gap in the finance industry.

“Years of sustained pressure from the FSU and questioning by parliamentary committees have finally convinced Westpac to remove pay secrecy clauses after the bank initially refused to do so three years ago,” says the FSU in a statement.

“As recently as last week, FSU members who raised issues about pay parity were told by Westpac management that they were not permitted to discuss salaries publicly. The FSU hopes that Westpac will take the next step and introduce a disputes procedure that provides its workforce with a mechanism to challenge inequities in pay when they are uncovered.”

Westpac says it started removing pay secrecy clauses in the contracts of new employees joining the bank from December 2021. From 1 April 2022, this move will apply to contracts with staff.

Christine Parker, Westpac’s group executive human resources, says this is another step in reducing the risk of bias and improving equality for women in the workplace.

“More broadly, the past two years have seen increased visibility and awareness of important issues including gender equality, women’s economic security and women’s safety. There is more to do, but we’re encouraged by the current conversations and willingness to engage,” she says.