A study of remuneration trends and employment practices in the Australian mining industry has revealed the gap in gender pay increased last year.
The 2009 Remuneration and Employment Survey, published by the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) yesterday, outlined an increase in the gender pay gap across all levels of responsibility compared to the 2008 survey.
The pay difference for new entrants into the industry (Level One) was 15.8%, while the gap for Level Two workers rose to 8%.
According to the study, the gap then escalated at every responsibility level up to the senior management bracket (Level Five), which stood at 58.3%.
The chair of AusIMM’s Women in Mining Network Donna Frater said the Level Five gap had almost doubled in size, since the 2008 survey was compiled.
“The clear implication is that while equity may be touted as a priority when times are good, some decision makers fall back on old biases about the relative value of male and female employees when the going gets tough,” she said.
According to AusIMM, the survey also revealed that companies looked to hold on to more experienced staff by granting larger salary increases across the more senior levels.
In an effort to survive the downturn, the industry also looked to shorten working hours and reduce fringe benefits.
Some companies actually introduced four-day working weeks to cut costs but hold on to key staff, AusIMM said.
“In an industry known for rigid working hours and culling staff in downturns, it was heartening to see creative human resourcing approaches aimed at retaining staff,” Frater said.
“As the industry is now poised for an upturn, it is hoped that some of this creativity might be redirected towards closing the gender pay gap and incorporating more flexible work practices for all employees.”
According to AusIMM, the survey also suggested workplace flexibility was becoming a larger priority for employees.
More than 30% of the respondents indicated they had caring responsibilities, with 90% of these being carers for children.
Around 43% of carers indicated their responsibilities had forced them to reduce their hours or accept roles with lower salaries.
The AusIMM purports the survey is the most comprehensive analysis of remuneration trends, work practices and attitudes of professionals in the minerals sector.