Wednesday 20 September 2017

Ireland set to introduce measures to close the gender pay gap

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

Laura Lynott

A top employment lawyer has said Ireland will be next to introduce measures to close the gender pay gap.

Mary Brassil, a partner in McCann Fitzgerald, said a recent workforce study had showed that only half of employers have the gender pay gap on their HR agenda - but she believes this is soon to change.

76 per cent of firms are planning to undertake some form of equal pay audit in the future, and 78 per cent would like to benchmark their gender pay gap against their counterparts.

Ms Brassil said that despite more than 40 years of equal pay law: “There still is a significant pay gap in Ireland and it’s the Government’s policy to reduce the gap.”

The lawyer said it was likely that Ireland would follow the British example of gender pay gap reporting, which sees firms volunteer information to the Government on their pay scales.

“Assuming gender pay gap reporting is implemented (in Ireland) it will give employers the undertaking of the pay gaps have been identified and what changes to pay practises are needed to minimise risk of equal pay cases.”

If companies did not comply with paying equal salaries for equal work regardless of gender, they faced legal action, she said.

“Employers should be proactive and commence the process of reviewing pay to understand where the differences exist,” she said, to avoid future issues.

Ms Brassil said Irish firms should also be concentrating on trying to maintain female staff by keeping pay in line with male staff and considering how best to tailor a workforce for men and women.

One of the main concerns women had, she said, was work life balance and while many men were concerned about career progression, women were more likely to leave a company if they did not have a positive relationship with their manager.

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