Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, welcomed the passage of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill by the Houses of the Oireachtas on Wednesday, saying “pay transparency is now one step closer.”
The legislation will have a significant impact on businesses in Ireland, requiring organisations to report on the differences between the average and median hourly pay and bonuses of men and women and the percentages of men and women receiving bonuses and benefits in kind.
The average gender pay gap in Ireland is 14.4% according to the Central Statistics Office, which is roughly in line with the European average.
While the requirement will initially apply to organisations with 250 or more staff, it will extend over time to those with 50 or more. They will be required to provide any explanation for any gender pay discrepancies.
The most recent Business Demography statistics released by the Central Statistics Office last week showed that in 2019, just 0.3 % of enterprises in Ireland had more than 250 employees. However, they had the biggest share of persons engaged, with 33.6% of employed people in Ireland working in a firm with 250 or more staff.
Similarly, companies with 50-249 staff in 2019 accounted for just 1.3% of the total number of enterprises in Ireland, but they accounted for a further 20.3% of employed people in Ireland.
Commenting on the potential impact of the legislation, Minister O’Gorman said “pay transparency on its own will not end the pay disparity between men and women, but it is an important further step on the road to equality.”
“Most organisations want to be better employers and this legislation can support them in reporting their gender pay gap data, in understanding and most importantly, in taking measures to address it.”
Meanwhile, a Mercer study found that 74% of Irish companies believe mandatory gender pay gap reporting is a good thing as it increases transparency. 55% said they are not fully ready for mandatory reporting while 67% said they were worried about the reputational impact.
The legislation will now be sent to the President for consideration and signature. Then, regulations to give effect to the provisions of the Bill will be drafted. It is expected that the reporting process will begin in 2022 with further information on how and when companies will begin reporting to be published in due course.