The Gender Pay Gap Bill 2017

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 has been drafted. The bill requires employers who employ 50 or more employees to publish information regarding employee pay. The information is being published to show whether or not there are differences in pay between female and male employees and if so, to show the scale of such differences.

These employers may be required to regularly report on their gender pay gap and provide specific information regarding pay for their staff, such as;

 “(a) The difference between the mean hourly rate of pay of male employees and that of female employees

 (b) The difference between the median hourly rate of pay of male employees and that of female employees

 (c) The difference between the mean bonus pay paid to male employees and that paid to female employees

 (d) The difference between the median bonus pay paid to male employees and that paid to female employees

 (e) The proportions of male and female employees who were paid bonus pay, and

 (f) The proportions of male and female employees in the lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands.”

An employer who contravenes the provisions of the scheme may be guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a ‘Class A’ fine. A ‘Class A’ fine cannot exceed €5,000.

The Bill is modelled to a large extent on the equivalent gender pay gap information regulations in Great Britain. Since 6th April 2017, employers in Great Britain that employ more than 250 employees are legally required to publish the following information on their own website and a Government website annually;

  • Gender pay gap (mean and median averages)
  • Gender bonus gap (mean and median averages)
  • Proportion of men and women receiving bonuses
  • Proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure

What this means for employers

If The Gender Pay Gap is enacted, it means a greater focus on transparency and equality in the workplace. If employers are legally obliged to publish information on gender pay gaps, and such information identifies significant differences in pay for male and female workers, we are likely to see an increase in gender discrimination claims.

A proactive approach

Employers should take a proactive approach by conducting an analysis on their payroll data. The review should establish how many employees are in part time and full times roles, to find out what the ratio of male to female employees are in senior positions and establish what the average rate of pay is in the company along with the questions from (a – f) listed above. Employers need to be ready to justify their decision in relation to remuneration. Unintentional gender bias may exist, and having a proactive approach and conducting a review will allow a company to establish this prior to being legally obliged to publish this information.

How to avoid gender bias

The implementation of salary scales into an organisation is a way to avoid exposure relating to pay claims, as they are objective and measurable. Salary scales are objectively justified and eliminate subjective rates of pay being offered. Each employee comes into the organisation at a certain point on the scale, depending on experience and qualifications.

Recently there has been a lot of negative publicity in the media regarding the gender pay gap. The most recent focus has been on the gap between female presenters pay in the BBC, as opposed to male colleagues. In order for companies to avoid such publicity, a proactive approach should be adopted.

There are many way employers can manage the gender pay gap. If you have any questions relating to this article please contact the advice line on 01 886 0350

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