‘Firms to be fined if they don’t publish pay-gap figures’

David Stanton.

Companies will face fines, or potential court-compliance orders, unless they publish gender pay-gap salary details at least once a year, under strict new laws set to be announced by the Government.

The potential new law will be tabled at Cabinet later this month, and it will insist that salaries, bonuses, hourly pay, and part-time work payments be published at least once a year.

This is a bid to address gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

In response to the gender pay-gap controversies in RTÉ and the BBC last year, the Department of Justice has drawn up the heads of bill for a new law seeking to address the issue.

And while it has yet to be passed, sources said the minister of state with responsibility for equality, David Stanton, will bring it to Cabinet before the end of this month, in a bid to fast-track a new era of pay transparency.

Under the heads of bill:

  • All employers will be required to publish gender pay-gap information in their companies at least once a year;
  • This will include male-female differences in hourly pay, bonuses, salaries, and the pay of part-time workers, a larger percentage of whom are women;
  • The potential new rules will relate to both public and private firms;
  • A commitment will also be given to provide an overall breakdown of public sector organisations, such as An Garda Síochána, in annual directors’ reports;
  • Further provisions to break the information down by job classification

The measures, if passed by Cabinet later this month and subsequently by the Dáil and Seanad, will be initially applied to large companies with more than 250 employees, before extending to smaller firms.

The measures will also allow for Workplace Relations Commission inspectors to examine companies as they see fit, in order to ensure the correct information is being provided.

While the full details have yet to be made public, the heads of bill is also expected to say that any company which fails to comply with the planned new rules will face fines or court-compliance orders.

The decision to act on gender pay gaps comes after a year of calls for action, in response to a major scandal at the British state broadcaster, the BBC, and similar concerns at the Irish state broadcaster, RTÉ.

Newsreader Sharon Ní Bheolain revealed she was being paid €80,000 less than her then co-anchor Bryan Dobson, with Mr Dobson one of those to speak out over the issue.

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