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Pay equality toolkit: Develop a complaints procedure

A procedure that helps your business deal with complaints about pay demonstrates your commitment to transparency and fairness around your pay practices. Developing your own complaints procedure for equal pay will provide a simple pathway to resolution that is tailored to your own business needs.

Why does my business need a complaints procedure for equal pay?

A pay equality complaints procedure is a structured process that employees can follow if they believe they are not receiving equal pay for equal work.

Under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act 2010, employers have a positive duty to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.  This means employers should take proactive steps to prevent discrimination and victimisation in pay practices, even if no one has complained about them.

Effective preventative measures include providing employees with a fair, transparent and respectful process that makes employees feel comfortable enough to make a complaint about pay issues.

Employees have the right to make a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman if they feel a pay issue has not been resolved fairly by their employer. If the pay issue is a result of discrimination, employees can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Having an internal complaints procedure means your employees can seek a resolution within your organisation, allowing you to work together to resolve the issue, before escalating the matter to these external authorities.

By establishing a complaints procedure, an employer puts in place a transparent process for the resolution of pay issues and establishes an important component for complying with the laws and monitoring pay equality measures.

Do I need a separate complaints procedure for pay issues?

If you already have a complaints procedure in your organisation, you may find you can adapt it to include specifics around pay issues. Complaints about pay issues can involve parts of your business that are different from those involved in more general complaints. For example, many pay issues are due to administration mistakes and can be resolved quickly and easily through a clear and transparent process.

Go through the following key characteristics and recommended processes of a pay equality complaints procedure to check whether your current complaints procedure can be adapted, or whether it would be beneficial for you to have a dedicated one for pay issues.

What are the key characteristics of a good pay equality complaint procedure?

Your pay equality complaints procedure should be aligned with the principles of complaint handling more generally – including fairness, transparency, accessibility, timeliness and protections against victimisation.

The person making the complaint (the complainant) should be at the centre of the procedure, with every effort made to ensure they have been heard and their individual needs have been considered. The person assessing and addressing the complaint (for example, a manager, human resources staff or an investigator) plays a key part in this, by ensuring they approach the complaint with empathy and keep the complainant informed throughout the process.

Characteristics of a good pay equality complaint procedure

How to set up a pay equality complaints procedure

Download our step-by-step guide to setting up a complaints procedure to help your organisation get started.

Evaluating your pay equality complaint procedure

Ensure all pay equality complaints are documented (our pay equality complaint form template can be tailored to suit your own business). Collate the information to determine the effectiveness of your complaints procedure, along with feedback received from complainants on what they felt worked well and what could be improved.

Decide how, and when, you will review this data to evaluate the effectiveness of your complaints procedure. Include this in your Equal Pay Policy and/or action plan.

Include reporting on the status of pay equality and the handling of complaints in your regular reports to senior management and/or the board. This promotes transparency and accountability.

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guide only. It is not a substitute for legal advice.


Access other pay equality tools

Start with the Pay Equality Compass

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