knowledge | 10 April 2019 |

Gender Pay Gap Reporting - Publication of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill  

The Government published the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 (the Bill) earlier this week. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan, stated "The aim of this Bill is to provide transparency on the gender pay gap.  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.” 

The Bill amends the Employment Equality Act 1998 to allow the Minister for Justice and Equality to make regulations requiring private and public sector employers (subject to employment thresholds) to report and publish their gender pay gap and bonus pay gap. While this mandatory reporting obligation will initially only affect employers with 250 + employees, the Bill narrows this scope to employers with 150 + employees after 2 years of the making of the regulations and to employers with 50 + employees after 3 years.

What information needs to be reported?

The information to be reported includes the differences between:

  1. the mean hourly pay of male and female employees;
  2. the median hourly pay of male and female employees;
  3. the mean bonus pay of male and female employees;
  4. the median bonus pay of male and female employees;
  5. the mean pay of part-time male and female employees;
  6. the median pay of part-time male and female employees.

Affected employers will also be required to publish details of the percentage of all male and female employees who were paid bonus remuneration and who received benefits in kind.

The Bill provides that the regulations may also require the publication of information on the differences between the mean hourly pay of male and female employees on temporary contracts and the median hourly pay of male and female employees on temporary contracts.

The Bill further provides that the regulations may require the publication of information in respect of the percentage of employees in each of the four pay quartiles who are men and who are women or the publication of information by reference to job classification. Reporting by reference to job classification goes further than what is required under the UK Gender Pay Gap Regulations.  Some commentators have stated that such a reporting requirement could involve substantial work for employers in the private sector where across organisation comparability does not exist for many roles.

Will this data be published and, if so, where?

The Bill provides that the regulations will set out the form, manner and frequency of gender pay gap reporting (which shall not be more frequent than once a year). It is likely that employers will be required to publish their gender pay gap data on their own website and on a publicly accessible central website.  

Is there a requirement to publish a statement or narrative?

The Bill requires the publication by the employer of a statement or narrative (concurrently with the publication of its gender pay gap data) setting out in the employers’ opinion, the reasons for its gender pay gap and the measures (if any) being taken by the employer to reduce or eliminate that gap.   

How will the reporting obligations be enforced?

The Bill provides for several methods to enforce the gender pay gap reporting obligations. The Minister 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 persons to provide information. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is given power to apply to the Circuit Court for an order requiring a person to comply with the regulations. Also, an individual employee may make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) of non-compliance with reporting regulations by their employer.  The WRC, if it finds in favour of the employee, may order a specified course of action on the part of the employer to ensure compliance.

What can employers do to prepare for gender pay gap reporting? 

Stakeholders

Reporting will require the input of a number of stakeholders ranging from internal departments such as payroll and human resources to external legal counsel and public relations advisors. Employers should identify, inform and educate their stakeholders early.

Resources

It is important for employers to establish that they have the required resources within their organisation to carry out  gender pay gap reporting, including the technology and software which will be required to collate the data and carry out the calculations.

Legal Input

Employers should be mindful of their data protection obligations when calculating and reporting their gender pay gap data. Taking legal advice at an early stage is key, not only in terms of advising in respect of potential legal and data protection issues, but also ensuring that the process followed and output of such an initial review can be protected from disclosure (on the basis of legal privilege). 

Communications Strategy

Employers should consider their communications strategy both within their organisation and to the public at large. 

Action Plan

Depending on the factors that drive the gender pay gap within an organisation, it is important for employers to consider what action plan should be put in place to reduce or eliminate their gender pay gap. It is important for employers to take appropriate, credible and achievable actions, particularly, given that they will most likely be required to publish their gender pay gap data on an annual basis.

How can we help? 

Our Employment, Pensions and Incentives Group would be happy to address any questions employers may have on the implications of the proposed legislation, including advising employers on how to prepare for mandatory gender pay gap reporting. Your usual contact in McCann FitzGerald would be happy to provide for further information.
 

This briefing is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.

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