Labour’s Pay Gap Bill could be law by summer with FG support
Labour Party Seanad Leader Ivana Bacik, has called on the Government as it seeks to mark International Women’s Day on Friday to use Labour legislation which is already well on its way through the Oireachtas to introduce Gender Pay Gap reporting, rather than delaying progress any further.
Senator Bacik said:
“On Friday this week we will mark International Women’s Day and the theme is balance for better. Another year will have passed without progress on the gender pay gap reporting bill. The Cabinet will hold another symbolic meeting on 8th March to discuss gender issues, and they can decide to take real action now.
“The Government has been promising for over a year that they will introduce legislation to tackle the pay gap. During this time, the Labour Party has progressed legislation through all stages of the Seanad and second stage in the Dáil. Fine Gael has made regular pronouncements on their commitment but hasn’t delivered.
“The Justice and Equality committee will not progress Labour’s bill any further unless a money message is issued, and have published a report on the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government’s own proposals which have yet to be finalised and published as a bill.
“There is nothing to stop the Government bringing amendments to Labour’s bill. I am calling on them to consider this at their Cabinet meeting on Friday, which would allow the Labour bill to be progressed in this Dáil and passed into law by the summer.
“At around 14%, the pay gap means that Irish women work for free for around one month of every year. Despite passing equal pay legislation in Ireland more than 40 years ago, in 1974, women have still not achieved anything close to pay parity with our male colleagues.
“The rate of change in pay levels has become stagnant – over the past 11 years, the pay gap has narrowed by only four percentage points so it is high time we addressed this issue.
“If enacted, the Labour Party’s Gender Pay Gap Information Bill would require medium to large-sized companies to regularly publish wage transparency surveys that would highlight any difference in pay between their male and female workers.
“This has worked in other countries and we believe it will have a significant impact in driving down the gender pay gap here, by shining the spotlight on any gender based pay discrepancies and enabling companies to address and remedy such inequalities where they exist.
“It’s not enough to simply rely on organisations to volunteer this information, legislation is required.
“Ireland has made significant strides toward gender equality but we are not there yet, and after marking the centenary of women’s suffrage, we must prioritise tackling our unsustainable gender pay gap.”
Notes to Editors
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill which has already passed all stages in the Seanad and second stage in the Dáil would require employers to publish information demonstrating any gender pay gap that exists in their organisation. Based on legislation introduced in other EU countries, it would require companies with 50 employees or more to report regularly on any gender pay gap in the workplace. The ‘gender pay gap’ is the term used to describe the difference between the pay of women and men, calculated based on the average difference in gross hourly earnings. In 2013, the EU Commission published a major study on the gender pay gap, noting that on average, women in the EU earn about 16 per cent less per hour than men. The EU figures show that in Ireland, women currently earn around 13.9 per cent less than men. That figure equates to women in full time employment working for free in Ireland for about one month of the year.