Changes to pay secrecy laws: What they mean for you

Pay secrecy clauses have allowed employers to exploit and underpay game industry workers for too long. Thanks to the hard work of union members, pay secrecy was made illegal in Australia in December 2022.

There are some caveats and conditions to take into account as the law is in its first stage of changing, so at the request of GWA members we have prepared a brief explainer of what this means for you.

If you have an existing contract with a pay secrecy clause, prior to December 7 2022

Existing contracts with pay secrecy clauses remain in force for the time being unless the contract is varied (see below). This is expected to change in 2023 with the second round of legislation.

However for the time being, those clauses are still binding. If this is your situation, you must respect the pay secrecy clause at this time – even if other people around you are free to discuss their pay and conditions openly.

If you have an existing contract with a pay secrecy clause AND at some point in time on or after December 7 2022, your contract is varied

A contract variation means that you employer agree to change something about your contract, such as salary, conditions, position/title, and so on. This must always be done in writing to be binding.

The moment your contract is varied, the existing pay secrecy clauses become null and void. They can no longer be enforced from that point onwards.

If you sign a new contract on or after 7 December 2022

Any new contracts signed on or after 7 December 2022 should not have pay secrecy clauses in them. If the employer has left a pay secrecy clause in there, it is unenforceable and you are not obliged to respect it.

Employers should seek their own advice on this matter and update their contract templates.

From 7 June 2023, including pay secrecy terms in a contract will be unlawful and employers can face penalties for breaching this.

What are my rights?

Employees who are not bound by a pay secrecy clause are free to:

  • share (or not share) information about their pay and conditions
  • ask other employees (at the same employer, or a different employer) about their pay and conditions

If your employer tries to prevent you from discussing your pay and conditions, this is now a breach of your rights and you can lodge an adverse action claim against that employer.

Members of Game Workers Australia should contact the union for assistance in this event. If you’re not a member of Game Workers Australia join today and be part of our movement to build a better industry for us all.