Women earn a fifth less than men on average at health insurer VHI

The company employs 1,655 people across the business – 67pc of them women

State-owned insurer VHI says gap is due to job distribution between men and women

Sarah Collins

Women earn 21pc less than men per hour, on average, at State-owned health insurer VHI.

VHI, the country’s largest insurer, said in its first gender pay-gap report that the difference was due to a higher number of women in lower-paid administrative roles and more men in leadership.

The gender pay gap is different from pay discrimination – paying men and women differently for doing the same job – which is illegal.

Around 660 Irish-based firms – those with more than 250 staff – must report this month on the differences in average pay and bonuses across their Irish workforce, and reveal gender representation across pay scales.

Smaller firms will have to report from 2024.

When looking at the median, or mid-point, between the highest and lowest hourly wage, women earned 19pc less than men at VHI on June 9 this year.

Median figures are less affected by extreme values at either end of the pay scale.

The bonus gap at VHI was also large, with men earning, on average, 31pc more than women, although bonuses were paid to 88pc of women and men at the insurer.

In median terms, the bonus gap was 18pc “because of the number of senior male colleagues who receive higher bonuses and male colleagues in part-time or temporary roles where bonuses are not applicable”.

VHI employs 1,655 people across the business, the large majority (67pc) of them women.

“VHI’s pay gap is significantly driven by the unequal distribution of males and females within our workforce,” according to the report, which was published on the insurer’s website last week.

“Administrative roles are predominately occupied by females. Females also make up the vast majority of colleagues employed part-time or on temporary contract roles.

Meanwhile, VHI’s senior leadership team and our senior management roles have a majority male representation.”

There were more women than men in all pay scales except the top quartile.

The company said it runs programmes on management development and women in leadership along with unconscious bias training to try to eliminate its gender pay gap.

“VHI is committed to understanding and improving on our gender representation at all levels,” the report said.

Men in a sample of large Irish-based companies operating in the UK were earning 16pc more than their female colleagues last year, Independent.ie analysis shows.

The pay gap was largest in law firms, transport companies, management consultants and banks, with some tech firms also showing large disparities.

A recent survey by IrishJobs offshoot Universum found the overall gender pay gap in Ireland is 16pc – in terms of annual pay – with the IT sector showing the biggest difference.

Semi-state company An Post was the first firm to publish its report under Ireland’s new reporting requirements. It found a zero gender pay gap for the second year running.

Women were paid, on average, 0.86pc more than men at the company in June this year, a slight increase on 2021.

However, men are making 8.2pc more than women in bonuses, while women make up just 25pc of An Post’s workforce.