Wednesday 21 August 2019

Most companies will be exempt from reporting gender pay gap

‘Laggard’: Oonagh Buckley, deputy secretary general of the Department of Justice and Equality, has called for more women at senior management level in companies
‘Laggard’: Oonagh Buckley, deputy secretary general of the Department of Justice and Equality, has called for more women at senior management level in companies

Ellie Donnelly and Evie Kearney

Most companies in Ireland will be exempt from having to report differences in average pay between their male and female staff, even after new gender pay gap rules come into force.

Under the regulation, which is expected to come in to force next year, any differences in the average pay of male and female employees, including the nature and scale of such differences, will have to be made public.

Employers will also have to publish reports stating the reasons for such differences and any measures taken to reduce or eliminate the disparity.

The new regulations will initially hit companies with 250 staff or more. From 2022, the rules will apply to businesses with 150 employees, and a year later to firms with 50 or more people.

But there is no timescale yet for businesses with fewer than 50 staff - which make up the majority of businesses in Ireland.

It is estimated by the Department of Justice that two in three employees will be covered under the regulation.

The gender pay gap usually occurs when people reach the age of 35, not when they enter the workforce, according to HR body CIPD Ireland.

This is when women are most likely to take time out of the workforce and assume carer roles, delegates at an event organised by the lobby group were told yesterday.

According to 2014 figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the gender pay gap in Ireland is 13.9pc.

As well as addressing this issue, there needs to be more female representation at senior management and board level in Ireland, Oonagh Buckley, deputy secretary general of the Department of Justice and Equality, said.

"Ireland is a laggard in this regard in European terms, the figure I have is 8pc in listed companies [for female board representation]" Ms Buckley added.

The diversity and pay seminar focused mainly on the implications of the Gender Pay Gap (Information) Bill 2019 currently going through the Oireachtas.

Should businesses continually fail to comply with the legislation then they will be in contempt of the circuit court.

There are multifaceted causes behind differences in pay, Ms Buckley told the hundred-plus delegates.

"These reasons include traditional role models, gender-segregated employment, work-family life balance, difference of participation of men and women in family responsibilities, availability of childcare and out-of-school care," Ms Buckley said.

Meanwhile, new figures from the Central Statistics Office found those who identify as LGBT experience the highest level of discrimination in Ireland.

The CSO identified that nearly 18pc of people aged 18 or over said they had experienced some form of discrimination in the past two years.

The highest rates of discrimination were reported by those who identify as LGBT (33.2pc), followed by persons from non-white ethnic backgrounds (33.1pc).

More males than females cited their sexual orientation as a perceived reason for discrimination. However, 29.1pc of females cited gender as grounds for discrimination in comparison to 7.8pc of males.

Nearly one in 10 of those discriminated against (9.4pc) said they experienced discrimination in the workplace, while almost one in eight (11.8pc) have had incidents while accessing services such as public transport or health facilities. In the workplace, 7.3pc of females said they were discriminated against compared to 4.6pc of males.

Irish Independent

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