Gender pay gap reporting moves a step closer
Gender pay gap reporting law nears enactment
The Government recently published the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 (the Bill).
Commenting on the draft legislation, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, stated “the aim of this Bill is to provide transparency on the gender pay gap. I believe firms which can report a low or non-existent pay gap will be at an advantage in recruiting future employees and I hope mandatory reporting will incentivize employers to take measures to address the issue insofar as they can.”
So what does the Bill hope to achieve?
According to figures from the Central Statistics Office, Ireland’s gender pay gap remains at 13.9%. Ireland is not the worst offender by any means on a global scale but the gap remains stubbornly wide.
The principle of equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in Irish law since the 1970s but with relatively few equal pay claims, it is clear that the gender pay gap arises for a variety of societal and economic reasons.
The introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting is therefore seen as a diagnostic measure which over time aims to identify the precise causes of the gender pay gap.
What does this mean for employers?
If enacted as currently drafted, the Bill will require employers to publish information relating to pay of their employees for the purpose of showing:
- whether there are differences in pay referable to gender and, if so, the
- size of such differences.
- the reasons for such differences and the measures (if any) taken or proposed to be taken by the employer to eliminate or reduce such differences.
The Bill will require both private and public sector employers (subject to employment thresholds) to report and publish their gender pay gap and bonus pay gap.
Employers will also be required to publish the measures taken by them to eliminate or reduce the gender pay gap.
This mandatory reporting obligation will initially affect employers with 250 + employees. The Bill reduces the threshold to 150 + employees after 2 years and to employers with 50 + employees 3 years after commencement.
What specific information needs to be reported?
The information to be reported includes the differences between:
- the mean hourly pay of male and female employees;
- the median hourly pay of male and female employees;
- the mean bonus pay of male and female employees;
- the median bonus pay of male and female employees;
- the mean pay of part-time male and female employees;
- the median pay of part-time male and female employees.
Who will enforce gender pay gap reporting measures?
The Minister may appoint designated officers to investigate how employers prepare the information for publication to ensure its accuracy. Designated officers will have powers to enter premises, obtain information, and require persons to provide information and produce records, inspect and copy those records.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is given power to apply to the Circuit Court for an order requiring a person to comply with the regulations.
Individual employees will be entitled to make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission for non-compliance with reporting regulations by their employer.
The IHREC will also be entitled to carry out an equality review or prepare and implement an action plan around equality for a particular organisation or group of organisations making up a specific sector.
Larger organisations should act now
Employers with more than 250 employees should begin payroll audits immediately to establish whether gender pay gaps exist in their organisations and consider what actions they need to undertake to reduce/eliminate a gender pay gap.
If a large gender pay gap is revealed, organisations are at risk of suffering negative publicity and/or equal pay claims.
Need help with gender pay gap reporting?
Please contact the advice line on +353 1 886 0350 to speak with a consultant regarding this law or any other HR issue affecting your organisation.
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