Roderic O’Gorman TD, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, has yesterday received Cabinet approval to amend the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill and to introduce the strengthened Bill at Report Stage in Dáil Éireann.
The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill was originally published in April 2019 and lapsed with the dissolution of the Dáil in 2020, before being restored to the Order Paper later that year.
Once implemented, the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill will require employers over a certain size to publish pay differences between female and male employees, including any bonuses. The Bill provides a regulation-making power to the Minister through which the detail of this can be specified.
The proposed Report Stage amendments will strengthen the Bill by:
providing a more comprehensive definition of a public body to ensure that the provisions of the Bill will apply individually to all public bodies
addressing enforcement issues in the legislation, including by providing expanded power to IHREC to make an application to the High Court for an enforcement order where warranted
requiring a review of the functioning of the legislation before the 4th anniversary of its commencement
Announcing the approval by Cabinet of the proposals Minister O’Gorman said:
“I am delighted that the strengthened Gender Pay Gap Information Bill was approved by Cabinet yesterday. The government is developing a fairer economy, and a key part of that will be continuing to close the gender pay gap. The amendments brought to Cabinet yesterday will mean that government departments and agencies will have to report on their own gender pay gap, and establish a stronger role in enforcement for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
“We need to gain an accurate understanding of the gender pay gap to help address the root causes of the gender pay disparity between men and women. This Bill, once implemented, will bring us another step forward in achieving a more equal society for everyone.”
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, said:
“The gender pay gap is unjustified and unfair. I believe strongly in equal pay for equal work. Closing the gender pay gap was a priority for the last government and allowed us to start work on this Bill. It’s also a priority for the new government and I commend Minister O’Gorman for bringing these proposals to Cabinet.
“Equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in Irish law for decades but the reality can be different. Women can face obstacles to promotion and can still face discrimination in companies where remuneration packages are negotiated individually. This new law will reveal any disparities that exist at workplace level. It will allow us to recognise companies that truly respect the principle of pay equality as good places to work and enable those that don’t to develop action plans to change their approach.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, commented:
“This is a really positive step and one which I truly believe will be a game changer when it comes to addressing the gender pay gap. We can’t ever have progress on this unless we’re open about the disparities that may exist. It’s important for me, as a woman, to be part of a government that is willing to address this issue head on and one that demonstrates it is serious about the need for a fairer and more equal Ireland. This Bill goes some way to ensuring we have a country that treats people of all genders equally."
The unadjusted gender pay gap in Ireland was 14.4% in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are currently available from the CSO. This is slightly lower than the EU average.
The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 will require organisations to report on the gender pay differentials in their organisations, setting out pay differences between female and male employees. It will include bonuses.
The requirement will initially apply to organisations with 250 or more employees but will extend over time to organisations with 50 or more employees. Organisations will be able to indicate the reasons for any gender pay differentials that are reported.
The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 was published in April 2019, passing Second Stage in the Dáil on 14 May 2019 and Committee Stage on 27 June 2019. The Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Dáil in January 2020. The Bill has now been restored to the Order Paper.
On 4 March 2021, the EU Commission published proposals for binding pay transparency measures. The provisions of the Directive will be reviewed in the context of the provisions of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 and existing employment obligations and entitlements.