Ó Ríordáin to prioritise gender pay gap laws

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
08 March 2020

Dublin Bay North TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said he will fast-track legislation to compel employers to reveal details their organisation’s gender pay gap if he is elected as Labour Party leader next month.

Speaking on International Women’s Day (Sunday 8th March), the Labour leadership contender said too little had been achieved on gender pay equality since equal pay legislation was introduced over 40 years ago. He accused Fine Gael of effectively blocking legislation on gender pay gap reporting in the last Dáil.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said: “It’s more than 40 years since equal-pay legislation was introduced in Ireland. That was a massive breakthrough, but, four decades later, progress has stalled. Teenage girls who entered the workforce when equal pay was first etched into law are now drawing their pensions. Another International Women’s Day has passed, but women here still earn 14% less than their male counterparts on average. This is the equivalent of compelling women to work two months a year for free.”

Labour and other campaigners say that gender pay gap reporting would help drive down the gender pay gap by shining a spotlight on gender-based pay inequalities and enabling companies to address and remedy them. The measure has won widespread support, including from employers.

In 2017, Labour’s Senator Ivana Bacik introduced the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill, which would have required medium and large companies to publish details of the difference in the average pay of their male and female staff.Although the Government accepted the Bill up to its second stage, it later withdrew support and introduced its own legislation, causing delay which effectively killed the initiative.

“If I am elected leader, I will support the legislation that Ivana Bacik put down, and win cross-party support for its early enactment,” said Ó Ríordáin.

New Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures, published last month, showed that the average gender pay gap in Ireland had risen to 14.4%. This compares to a significantly lower gap of below 12.6% during the recession.

The CSO says the gap is wider for older workers, with younger women who recently entered the workforce experiencing a gap of just 3%. This jumps to 15% for the 35-44 age group, which represents most young mothers, and stays high for those aged over 45. This is largely due to the fact that women are far more likely than men to take time out of the workforce to care for children, which stalls their earnings and has a long-term impact on their pay, promotion and pension prospects.

Gender pay gap legislation is among a raft of women’s equality policies that Ó Ríordáin backed in a message to Labour Women last Friday (6th March). These includedmeasures to tackle gender-based violence, improved gender balance on company boards, and support local authority action on period poverty.

He also outlined a range of measures to improve gender balance in the Labour Party, including a pledge to seek party support for the reestablishment of Labour’s deputy leader position on the basis that it must be filled by a woman if the party leader is a man.

ENDS

Further information: Bernard Harbor – 087-230-1262

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