Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan will today seek Cabinet backing to draft legislation forcing employers to publish gender pay gap data.
But Senator Ivana Bacik, who has already put a similar bill through the Seanad, has warned that re-starting new legislation from scratch could delay implementation.
It is hoped the proposed Gender Pay Gap Information Bill will increase awareness of the pay gap between men and women – and encourage firms to address disparities in remuneration.
Ireland’s 14% gender pay gap is better than the EU average of 16.7% – but that gap needs to close.
The legislation proposed by Minister Flanagan and Minister of State David Stanton would initially introduce compulsory gender pay gap reporting for firms with over 250 employees. However that reporting threshold would gradually fall to 50 workers.
Companies in the UK with more than 250 employees were legally required to report on gender pay differences within their organisations from May this year. More than 10,000 companies, including a number of Irish ones with a presence in the UK, submitted details on wage transparency with the final figures indicating that 78 per cent of UK firms pay men more than women on average.
It is hoped potentially negative publicity will encourage employers to eliminate – or at least reduce – gender pay discrepancies.
A similar Labour Party bill proposed by Senator Ivana Bacik is already awaiting Report Stage in the Seanad, but the Government has reservations about the role of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in administering it – so has decided to initiate its own legislation.
Senator Bacik warned that re-starting new legislation from scratch could delay implementation of this urgently needed measure.
Meanwhile, the trade union Fórsa says that any issue the Government might have with the Labour Party’s bill could be addressed through amendments.
The union’s head of communications, Bernard Harbor, said the move by Minister Flanagan introduces “needless delay which means the legislation may not become law before a general election.
“If that happens, we’ll be back to square one for a third time, despite the fact that there is broad consensus on this issue across political parties, employers bodies, workers’ representatives and civil society organisations.”