18 November 2019
The Bill demonstrates the Government's commitment to reducing the gender pay gap in Ireland which currently stands at 13.9%. The Bill proposes to require employers to carry out pay reviews, applicable to both full and part-time employees, and for the publication of the results for companies with 50 employees or more. The information would relate to differences between male and female employees in the following categories:
It is envisaged that the reporting will be introduced on a phased basis beginning with companies who have 250 employees or more and working its way down to companies with 50 employees or more. In its report, each employer will be expected to provide reasons for any gender pay gap within their company and outline what steps will be taken to close the gap. The text also states that complaints relating to gender pay gaps can be made to the Workplace Relations Commission.
The Bill will move through the Oireachtas alongside the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill, a private members bill which is currently before the third stage of Dáil Éireann. Although both bills seek to address the same issue, it is expected that the Government's bill will ultimately prevail.
Gender pay gap legislation came into force in the UK on 5 April 2017. It gave companies with 250 employees or more one year to publish a gender pay gap report. The UK legislation requires companies to report on similar categories to those outlined above. As of August 2018, four months after the specified deadline of 4 April 2018, 100% of UK employers who were required to publish a gender pay gap report had done so. However, in their 'Closing the Gender Pay Gap' report published in December 2018 the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission stated that only half of the reports published were accompanied by the required narrative explaining the reasons for the gender pay gap and outlining the commitments to closing this gap.
As outlined in our previous article on this topic, the impact of such gender pay gap reporting will take some time to come to fruition. In the meantime, however, businesses do have an opportunity to begin to review the issue of the gender pay gap within their organisations to prepare for the legislation coming into force.