Minister to move on gender pay gap legislation in next fortnight

O’Gorman to bring amendments to Cabinet requiring firms to publish differences in pay

Minister for  Equality Roderic O’Gorman: ‘I view the Bill as a priority so it will languish no more.’ File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman: ‘I view the Bill as a priority so it will languish no more.’ File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman has promised to advance a Bill that will require companies to publish pay differences between male and female employees including bonuses.

Mr O’Gorman told the Seanad he would bring amendments to Cabinet in the next fortnight on Gender Pay Gap Information Bill to “provide transparency on the gender pay gap and incentivise employers to take measures to address the issue insofar as they can”.

The Bill, originally published in 2019, completed committee stage in July that year and following the general election was restored to the Order paper in July 2020 but has stayed there since.

“I am committed to enabling the enactment of this Bill as early as possible and will seek to do so after the Easter recess,” Mr O’Gorman said. “I view the Bill as a priority so it will languish no more.”

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik had asked if the Government would introduce a new Bill as promised in the programme for government or if it would implement gender pay gap legislation she introduced four years ago which had been passed by the Seanad and had completed second stage in the Dáil.

On Monday, marking International Women’s Day, Labour also launched a manifesto “Working for Women” with 41 measures including provisions on healthcare leave for those receiving fertility treatment, free contraception, housing, transport and equal pay. In the Seanad, Ms Bacik said that whether a Government Bill or the Labour Bill was advanced, “either way we want to ensure there is progress on this issue,” she said.

“Every year, 9th November marks Equal Pay Day, which recognises that Ireland’s gender pay gap of 14.4 per cent effectively means women work for free for the rest of the year.

“To put it another way, women stop getting paid at around 4pm every day.”

Senator Marie Sherlock said “average weekly earnings for women are 25.05 per cent less than the average weekly earnings of men”. In retirement the gap is even bigger with men receiving 28.6 per cent more than women.

Mr O’Gorman said: “I am very conscious of the importance of the gender pay gap as a metric of women’s economic empowerment relative to men’s.

“It illustrates the degree to which women’s hourly pay, on average, is lower than men’s during their working lives, with implications for their risk of poverty, including in later life.”

He acknowledged that “women are over-represented in the sectors which have been badly affected” by Covid-19 and are experiencing greater conflict between working and their family lives. “Women are more likely to have reduced working hours, suffer job losses or leave the labour market.”

Pledging to bring amendments to Cabinet in the next fortnight to allow the Bill to proceed to report stage, Mr O’Gorman said: “I am committed to enabling the enactment of this Bill as early as possible and will seek to do so after the Easter recess. I assure Senators that I view the Bill as a priority so it will languish no more.”