In its Programme for a Partnership Government just published in May 2016 the Government put the reduction of the gender pay gap firmly on the political agenda by seeking to promote wage transparency through the introduction of wage surveys.

In Ireland equal pay legislation has been in force since 1975. Currently the right to equal pay arises under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 which obliges employers to pay employees on the same terms when they do "like work". However European Commission statistics published in 2014 show that the gender pay gap in Ireland is widening. These statistics indicate that the gender pay gap stood at 12.6% in 2008 and rose to 14.4% in 2012.

Right now there is no obligation on employers in Ireland to disclose gender pay gap information. However, in its programme, the Government has now pledged to introduce concrete measures to reduce the gender pay gap. Most notably the Government stated that it will seek to promote wage transparency by requiring companies of 50 and more employees to complete a wage survey. This has strong parallels with initiatives recently undertaken in the UK and the Government may chose to model the substance of this proposal on the UK’s approach.

In the UK gender pay gap reporting legislation will soon be enforced which will require employers with at least 250 employees to publish information relating to the pay of employees to determine whether there are differences in the pay of male and female employees. The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016 will require, from April 2018, employers to report information such as the:

  • difference in mean and median pay between all male and female employees;
  • proportion of men and women in each “pay quartile”; and
  • proportion of men and women receiving bonuses.

This information will need to be reported on company websites.

The aim of these proposals is to tackle the persistent gender pay gap that continues to exist despite legislation and case law prohibiting discrimination.