Last year, the Government launched a public consultation on measures to tackle the Gender Pay Gap. The summary of the submissions and findings of the public consultation process have now been published.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, and Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, hosted a symposium entitled ‘Rising to the challenge – addressing Ireland’s gender pay gap” on 10 January 2018. The symposium brought together over 130 participants including politicians, senior policymakers, business representatives, trades unions and academics to discuss the findings of a public consultation held between August and October 2017 on measures to tackle the gender pay gap.
The Summary of the Public Consultation on Measures to Tackle the Gender Pay Gap shows that non-transparency in pay structures, childcare responsibilities, unconscious bias, occupational/sectoral gender segregation and the lack of flexible work practices are believed to be the main contributing factors to the 13.9% pay gap between men and women in Ireland.
Minister Stanton stated “Today’s symposium has offered useful perspectives on the way forward. The Government will be bringing forward a range of actions to tackle this issue, starting with legislation on wage transparency”. Minister Stanton confirmed that following the public consultation process the Government will bring forward amendments to the Labour Party’s Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 at the Report Stage of the legislative process.
The Bill, as currently drafted, provides that the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can put in place a scheme to require employers with 50 or more employees to regularly report on their gender pay gap. The Scheme would require relevant employers to publish information in relation to, among others things:
- the difference between the mean hourly rate of pay of male employees and that of female employees;
- the difference between the mean bonus pay paid to male employees and that paid to female employees;
- the proportions of male and female employees who are paid bonuses; and
- the proportions of male and female employees in the lower, lower to middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands.
The Bill is modelled to a large extent on the equivalent UK Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016. However, significantly the Bill makes provision for any contravention of such scheme to constitute an offence attracting a fine of up to €5,000.
Employers should be proactive and take steps to review current pay practices and policies in their organisation in advance of mandatory gender pay gap reporting obligations coming into law. Undertaking such a review enables employers to analyse the rationale behind current pay practices in order to identify disparities and potential equal pay or discrimination issues.