Historic day for equal pay
Heralding an historic day for equal pay in Ireland, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has congratulated all campaigners, including Work Equal and the National Women’s Council, following the passage of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill today. Having first brought forward gender pay gap legislation four years ago in 2017 with the support of the trade union movement, Senator Bacik said there is still more to be done to achieve gender equality in the workplace. Noting her Reproductive Health Related Leave Bill which would provide women with leave in the event of an early miscarriage or having to take time off work for IVF treatment, Senator Bacik reiterated her call for Ireland to catch up with other jurisdictions that have passed similar legislation.
Senator Bacik said:
“Today is an historic day as the Gender Pay Gap bill has been passed, having completed its final stage in the Seanad. It is four years since I first brought forward legislation on this and unfortunately we have seen unnecessary delay since then. Ireland’s gender pay gap of 14.4% effectively means women work for free from 9th November each year. Put another way, women stop getting paid at around 4pm every day. This continued discrimination against women in the workplace must be meaningfully addressed through enacting this vital piece of legislation without delay.
“In 2017-18, my Bill to tackle the gender pay gap – the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 – passed through all stages in the Seanad and through Second Stage in the Dáil with strong support from across both Houses, including from Minister O’Gorman’s colleagues in the Green Party. The previous government failed to progress this Bill further, choosing instead to introduce its own, weaker legislation. The Government’s bill which has now passed is still less ambitious than our Labour Bill, which would have required any organisation with more than fifty employees to publish gender pay gap data. I put down several amendments today at report stage seeking to strengthen the Bill and extend its reach, and was glad to engage constructively with the Minister during an important debate this afternoon.
“Ireland has made significant strides towards achieving gender equality in the workplace, but there is still some distance to go. Legislation to provide for increased workplace flexibility, a universal public childcare scheme, targeted measures to tackle low pay and union density, strengthened collective bargaining rights, and the introduction of statutory sick pay and reproductive health related leave are all essential components of the package of progressive measures needed to support women – and men – at work.
“Labour’s Reproductive Health Related Leave Bill would provide an entitlement to reproductive health related leave of up to 20 days for women who suffer a miscarriage, and up to 10 days for those seeking treatments such as IVF. Aside from the practical supports for employees that this Bill would provide, it would also mark another step towards opening up conversations around reproductive health in Ireland, and information campaigns about the introduction of this new leave entitlement would encourage greater public awareness about this hidden issue. Traditionally, these experiences are not shared in the workplace and thus they remain hidden; stigma means that reproductive health is not perceived by some as an appropriate topic for watercooler chat. This Bill would go a long way in breaking down this stigma, as well as building more compassionate workplaces.”