Push for relaxation of workplace gender requirements

THE federal government will face fresh calls to water down planned new gender equality rules for medium-sized businesses.

Businesswoman Carol Schwartz, who is about to lead government consultations over the new reporting requirements, says different sized businesses will put forward different views about how to avoid ''onerous red tape''.

From next year, businesses with 100 or more employees must report how they measure up on issues such as the number of men and women at different levels in the organisation and whether male and female workers are being paid equally. Submssions close on Tuesday.

The Australian Industry Group chief executive, Innes Willox, said the measures must be simple and easily collected.

''The consultation process needs to account for the fact that a company with 100 employees will have very different information systems to a company with 10,000 employees,'' Mr Willox said.

The government has appointed Ms Schwartz, a director of Stockland and the Bank of Melbourne and a long-time advocate for women in business, to consult with business over the planned new rules.

Ms Schwartz said that although workplaces with fewer than 100 employees would be exempt, she still expected to receive feedback on whether different rules should apply to remaining businesses based on their size.

''You have corporations and organisations of different sizes and different structures; each one of them is going to find a contribution to make as to how we can structure this so that we don't create any sort of onerous red tape,'' she said.

The Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have raised concern over the impact of the new reporting requirements.

This story Push for relaxation of workplace gender requirements first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.