A new law to name and shame companies with a poor record of equal pay for female staff has been introduced by the Government, five years after being asked to do so by the European Commission.
Justice and Equality Minister Charlie Flanagan and Minister of State David Stanton, with responsibility for equality, yesterday announced the publication of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill which has been presented to the Dáil.
Under the Bill, Mr Flanagan will make regulations obliging employers to publish information relating to their gender pay gap.
The provision will apply initially in firms of 250 or more employees with the threshold reducing to 50 when the legislation is fully operational.
The requirement will apply in the private and public sectors and the Bill also provides that employers must set out the measures, if any, they are taking to eliminate or reduce any pay gap.
“The aim of this Bill is to provide transparency on the gender pay gap,” the minister said.
“I believe firms which can report a low or non-existent pay gap will be at an advantage in recruiting future employees and I hope mandatory reporting will incentivise employers to take measures to address the issue insofar as they can.
"Measures such as those included in the Bill have been taken in a number of other countries and, indeed, EU member states were encouraged to take such measures in an EU Commission Recommendation of 2014."
The detailed information that must be published under the ministerial regulations includes the mean and median gap in hourly pay between men and women; the mean and median gap in bonus pay between men and women; the mean and median gap in hourly pay of part-time male and female employees; the percentage of men and of women who received bonuses and benefits-in-kind.
The regulations may also require the publication of information on employees on temporary contracts, the percentage of employees in each of the four pay quartiles who are men and who are women and the publication of information by reference to job classifications.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is given power to apply to the Circuit Court for an order requiring a person to comply with the regulations while an individual employee may make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which will be given the power to make a compliance order against the employer.
“This Bill is one element in a substantial programme of work by Government to promote gender equality, all within the framework of the National Strategy for Women and Girls,” said Mr Stanton.
Noting the extensive consultation carried out by the department, he said the Bill reflects the feedback received to the greatest extent possible.
As regards enforcement, Mr Stanton may appoint designated officers to investigate how employers prepare the information for publication to ensure its accuracy.
Designated officers will have powers to enter premises, obtain information, and require employers to provide information.