Last week the Cabinet approved the general scheme of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill (the “Bill”). The Bill would compel employers to publish data relating to the pay of their employees in order to identify whether there are differences in the pay of men and women. It has been described as a “diagnostic rather than curative measure”, although it undoubtedly aims to address the issue of the gender pay gap and hopes to reduce it.
Specifically, the Bill would require employers to publish the differences between men and women’s pay in the following categories:
The differences between the proportions of male and female employees who were paid bonus pay and the proportions of male and female employees in the lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands would also have to be reported upon.
The impact is set to be staggered, with the regulations initially applying to those who employ over 250 employees, which reflects the current position in the UK legislation which tackles the same issue. However, after two years the regulations would apply to employers with over 150 employees and one year later they would apply to those employing over 50 employees, thereby catching a huge number of businesses across the country. This would apply across both the public and private sectors.
The Bill will now go on to the next stage at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality for further scrutiny, however there has been some suggestion that the law will not come into force until 2019 at the earliest. Either way, Irish businesses will need to consider the possibility of pay audits to try to both address and tackle any gaps which may exist between men and women in their workplaces. The experience from across the water in the UK has shown that the impact of a sizeable gender pay gap can cause negative publicity and a poor image, even for household names, something all businesses will want to avoid.
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