Requirement for businesses to report gender pay gap moves a step closer

Women effectively stop getting paid at 4pm every day, Ivana Bacik says as Bill passesSeanad

 Senator Ivana Bacik said continued discrimination against women in the workplace “must be meaningfully addressed through enacting this vital piece of legislation without delay”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Senator Ivana Bacik said continued discrimination against women in the workplace “must be meaningfully addressed through enacting this vital piece of legislation without delay”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The requirement for businesses to report on pay and bonus differences between male and female employees has moved a step closer following the passage of legislation in the Seanad.

Organisations with 250 or more employees will have to publish details of pay and bonuses under provisions of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill. This obligation will extend over time to smaller businesses with 50 or more employees.

Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman “it is a factor of Irish life that, in many situations, women continue to be paid less than men.

“It is unacceptable and this legislation is an important step to redress that.”

He said he was proud “to advance issues of gender equality” and had initiated a review of the equality legislation which will take place over the next year.

Mr O’Gorman acknowledged that much work “remains to be done but we can recognise that we will have solid infrastructure for reporting of the gender pay gap between male and female employees”.

The Bill is based on legislation introduced in 2017 by Labour Senator Ivana Bacik who said the gender pay gap of 14.4 per cent “effectively means women work for free from November 9th each year. Put another way women stop getting paid at around 4 pm every day.”

Ms Bacik said that “we know employers, trade unions and workers across the country are well aware this legislation is coming and is long overdue”.

Ms Bacik said employers and trade unions have been making preparations for this for quite some time but many companies “had almost given up on it” and the process has stagnated somewhat in different companies.

But she believed the continued discrimination against women in the workplace “must be meaningfully addressed through enacting this vital piece of legislation without delay”.

A number of regulations on the gender pay gap legislation have to be developed but Mr O’Gorman insisted there would be “no foot dragging” on drawing them up or implementing them.

They include the requirement for companies to report annually on employees’ pay and bonuses and also the development of a website which the Minister said would be really important to “publicise which companies are adhering to or making efforts towards addressing the gender pay gap in their spheres”.

A request for tender to develop the website will be prepared as quickly as possible, he added.

Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne expressed concern that the rules would not apply to companies with fewer than 50 employees and asked “could this section permit employers with fewer than 50 employees to legally discriminate against employees on a gender basis”.

The Minister said however that “it is at all times against the equality legislation to discriminate on the grounds of gender. This legislation does not change that.”

An approach was agreed which allowed for an incremental roll-out, he said and “specifically recognising that smaller companies would have a less well-developed human resources, HR, infrastructure and many would also be less well able to deal with the significant reporting requirements we are instituting with this legislation”.

The legislation goes back to the Dáil for final consideration of amendments from the Seanad on Wednesday.