Gender Pay Gap Legislation
1 December 2017
On 25th October 2017, a bill that I had introduced in the Seanad in May was passed through Committee stage with government support. My gender pay gap bill would require all companies with 50 or more staff to publish anonymised data showing pay levels and gender breakdown in their organisations, in order to see if a gender pay gap exists. The bill would then empower the Human Rights and Equality Commission to take action against companies which continue to pay men more than women. The gender pay gap is a significant workplace equality issue; serious pay inequalities in the BBC and RTÉ, among other organisations, have recently been exposed. Overall, women in Ireland earn on average 14% less than men, despite having had equal pay legislation in place for over 40 years. Those laws have been ineffective because they required individual women to sue their employers in order to achieve equal pay; but newer laws that require wage transparency have reduced the gap between what women and men earn in other countries. My bill is supported by the National Women’s Council and by IMPACT trade union, among other organisations, and is likely to become law in 2018. The issue of equal pay remains highly topical, and there is real momentum to create change. On 10th November 2017, I spoke alongside Sonya Lennon and others at an equal pay event organised by the Dress for Success charity, and on 23rd November 2017 I was one of the speakers at a National Women’s Council forum on the gender pay gap.