The gap between what men and woman are paid is widening, according to the latest workplace survey figures.

A study carried out by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) found a $266 a week overall difference between what men and women in full-time work earn.

Dr Carla Harris from the WGEA said the gap is now larger than it was 20 years ago and has been increasing.

"It's actually been steadily increasing since about 2004, from about 15 per cent in 2004 and now we're looking at about 17.5 per cent over the last year," she said.

At the moment, the average full time wage for a woman is about 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man in a fulltime job.

The agency calculated it takes 64 extra days of work for the average woman to equal what a man earns in a year.

Over 12 months, the difference works out to be nearly $14,000, and over a working career, unions estimate it at $1 million.

The difference applies to women across the education spectrum.

Research conducted late last year showed the gap in university graduate wages had more than doubled in the last year, going from $2000 to $5000.

Council of Small Business Chair Amanda Lynch said the figures show it is more difficult for women to get a graduate job, especially in male dominated areas, so they will take what salary they are offered.

"It's very interesting because when you actually talk to employers, they often don't see it as a problem, " Ms Lynch said.

"They will say that they actually aren't treating their employees differently and there is no gender bias.

"But often the statistics tell a different story. So we believe there is this unconscious gender pay gap that is happening where employers aren't even aware of it."

From next year businesses with 100 or more staff will need to report wages by gender, and what strategies they are employing to address pay gaps.

Dr Harris says the new requirements will shed some light on the issue.

"A lot of the time there's a lot of secrecy around whose being paying what and whose doing what and how there's certain biases that occur within HR and recruitment practices.

"By organisations and businesses having to provide this information it will increase accountability.

"And I think that will go a long way in generating change and making progress in this area.

Dr Harris says the new legislation will hold employers to account.

"Employees will very soon catch on if an employer is saying we are doing this and in fact they are not and holding employers to account," she said.

"I think that will also help those who aren't particularly interested in doing anything, as their employees will kick up a bit of a stink and make them."

The new reporting requirements will apply to all non-government businesses with 100 employees or more.

 

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