Gender pay gap discussions to take place next week

Policymakers, trade unions and academics to meet as part of Government initiative

The Government has committed to undertaking a package of measures to tackle the gender pay gap. Photograph: iStock

The Government has committed to undertaking a package of measures to tackle the gender pay gap. Photograph: iStock

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Policymakers, business and trade unions and academics are to meet next week as part of a Government initiative aimed at finding ways to close the gender pay gap.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Business Heather Humphreys are involved in the effort, which follows on from a public consultation on the subject that began in August.

The Government has committed to undertaking a package of measures to tackle the gender pay gap.

Figures released last year show the gap between what men and women in Ireland earn is 13.9 per cent. The European average is 16.7 per cent.

A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that women are more than twice as likely as men to be earning the minimum wage, with 6.9 per cent of female employees earning the lowest legally allowed wage compared with 2.7 per cent of men.

There has long been concern about the gender pay gap in Ireland and controversy last year over the differences in the salaries received by high-profile RTÉ broadcasters, which, followed similar concerns at the BBC, brought the issue to a head.

The Department of Justice said Mr Flanagan would brief those attending the symposium on the submissions received during the consultation period and that those present would also hear about the initiatives under consideration in the European Commission to address the gender pay gap.

Among the speakers are CSO statistician Morgan O’Donnell, Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Emily Logan of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Senator Ivana Bacik, representatives of Ibec and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Iceland this week began putting in place a new law that requires companies and government agencies to prove they are paying men and women equally.

The Equal Pay Standard took effect Monday. It says that companies with 25 full-time employees or more must analyse their salary structures every three years to ensure that men and women are being paid the same amount for doing the same jobs. Then they must report back to the government for certification or face penalties that include fines.

Mr Flanagan said this would be a “very significant” year for Irish women as it marks the centenary of women winning voting rights in the State.

“This anniversary will provide significant momentum to implement the gender equality measures in the Programme for Government, advanced through the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020,” he said.

Mr Flanagan said he and Minister of State for Equality David Stanton had a range of plans to advance the gender equality agenda and that the symposium was “a great opportunity to share ideas and work together to achieve common goals”.

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