Saturday 24 August 2019

Employers will have to explain how they will eliminate pay gap in their company under proposed new law

A significant proportion of employers have revealed an increase in their gender pay gap (Philip Toscano/PA)
A significant proportion of employers have revealed an increase in their gender pay gap (Philip Toscano/PA)

Anne-Marie Walsh

EMPLOYERS must explain how they will eliminate gaps between male and female workers’ pay under a proposed new law.

It is one of the measures in a new bill published by the government today that will force bosses to publish details of their gender pay gaps every year.

A spokesperson for the largest public sector union Fórsa said it wants to see a quick expansion of the number of companies that will be covered by the law.

It will initially apply to companies with over 250 staff - but this omits about two thirds of the workforce.

The union said it is “imperative” that the threshold falls to employers with 50 or more employees after three years as set out in the bill.

Siptu spokesperson Marie Sherlock said it is supportive of the bill but had been concerned by delays in rolling out the legislation.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Equality, Immigration and Integration, Fiona O’Loughlin said legislation alone is not enough to bridge the divide between men and women’s wages.

She said measures to increase the number of women in senior and better-paid roles, improved childcare provision and dealing with gender stereotypes need to be undertaken in tandem with the legislation.

"Just this week we saw that similar legislation in the UK has failed to make any great impact,” she said.

“A UK report showed very little change over the course of a year with the pay gap being 14.23pc on April 5, 2018 compared with 14.21pc on April 5, 2017.”

Fórsa official Geraldine O’Brien noted that the published data must include an employee’s pay band and job classification.

“This implies that gender pay data will be available on a grade-by-grade basis,” he said.

“I’m also pleased to see that regulations could give employers a duty to publish the measures they are taking to close the pay gap. This would give Fórsa and other unions a great opportunity to negotiate actions to address pay inequality.”

Employers will have to report on differences in bonus pay, part-time pay and the pay of men and women on temporary contracts.

The Minister for Justice and Equality may appoint special officers to investigate how employers prepare the information for publication to ensure it is accurate.

These officers will have powers to enter premises and ask staff for information.

In addition, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can apply to the Circuit Court for an order requiring an employer to comply with the regulations.

A worker can also make a complaint if they believe their employer is not compliant with the regulations to the Workplace Relations Commission, which can order them to comply.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan said firms that report a low or non-existent pay gap will be at an advantage in recruiting future employees.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News