knowledge | 28 June 2018 |

General Scheme of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill approved by Cabinet

The General Scheme of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill was approved by Cabinet and published by Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD.

The proposed Bill will allow the Minister to make regulations requiring employers to publish information relating to the pay of their employees for the purpose of showing whether there are differences in the pay of male and female employees and, if so, the scale of such differences.

According to Minister Flanagan the proposed Bill was formulated following proposals submitted by trade unions, employer representatives (IBEC), universities and the public during the Public Consultation on Measures to Tackle the Gender Pay Gap process last year.

The proposed legislation follows the Private Members’ Bill spearheaded by Labour Senator Ivana Bacik earlier this year, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017, which is currently at the Report Stage of the legislative process. There are some notable provisions in the new legislation:

  • The regulations will oblige employers to publish gender pay data in both public and private sector entities with over 250 employees initially, with the aim of lowering to 150 and eventually to 50 over the course of two to three years;
  •  The proposed Bill does not prescribe precisely how often employers will be required to publish such information, however, they will not be required to do so more than once a year;
  •  In addition to “mean” and “median” differences in hourly pay and bonus pay, employers will be required to publish disparities in part-time pay and pay of men and women on temporary contracts, as well as differences in pay by reference to job classifications and the proportions of male and female employees receiving bonuses and benefits-in-kind;
  • The regulations may require the publication of information by reference to job classifications;
  • The enforcement mechanisms contained in the proposed Bill are as follows:

    • The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will be permitted to apply to the Circuit Court for an order obliging an employer to comply with the legislation; 
    • Employees may apply to the Workplace Relations Commission for an order requiring that their employer comply with the Regulations; and
    • Designated officers may be appointed by the Minister to investigate a sample of employers to ensure the accuracy of published information.

  • Unlike Senator Bacik’s Private Members’ Bill, there is no provision for specific sanctions or fines for non-compliance as of yet in the proposed Bill.

The General Scheme of the Bill will be submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality for pre-legislative scrutiny. Given that the Bill is only at the beginning of the legislative process, the timeline for introducing gender pay reporting regulations, and the form such regulations will take, is not clear. However, what is clear is that mandatory pay reporting is very much on the Government’s agenda and employers should use this advanced notice to prepare.

Also contributed by Niamh Crotty.

This document has been prepared by McCann FitzGerald LLP 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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