What employers need to know about their Gender Pay Gap reporting obligations

With Brexit at the forefront of every Irish employer’s mind, it would be easy to miss other upcoming employment law changes that will impact on the way Irish employers run their businesses. In April of this year, the Government announced its intention to introduce legislation on mandatory gender pay gap reporting before the end of the year.

The implications of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 for Irish employers was discussed at the recent OFX and Hays Employment Law Breakfast seminar. This blog compiles the main points from OFX Senior Associate Judith Curtin presentation on what the new law will mean for employers and HR professionals.

What is the Gender Pay Gap?

The Gender Pay Gap is the difference between the average earnings of your male and female employees.

A gender pay gap is not the same thing as equal pay, which involves paying women the same as men for like work. An equal pay term is implied into every contract of employment in Ireland since 1999. The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 will introduce new requirements for Irish employers.

What causes the Gender Pay Gap?

The European Commission has identified the following as the main causes of the gender pay gap in the EU:

  • discrimination in the workplace;
  • women and men carry out different jobs and often work in different sectors;
  • workplace practices and pay systems;
  • undervaluing of women’s work and skills;
  • fewer women in senior and leadership positions;
  • gender roles and traditions;
  • balancing work and family responsibilities.

It has been reported that the Irish gender pay gap is greater than the EU average and that the Irish pension gender pay gap currently stands at 34.5%.

Who will the Gender Pay Gap Information apply to?

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 will apply to both public and private sector employers, with:

  • 250 or more employees (once commenced);
  • 150 or more employees (two years from the commencement date);
  • 50 or more employees (three years from the commencement date).

What must be reported?

Impacted Employers must report their:

  • Mean and median gender pay gap;
  • Mean and median bonus gender pay gap;
  • Mean and median gender pay gap for part-time employees;
  • Percentage of male and female employees paid a bonus;
  • Percentage of male and female employees in receipt of benefits in kind.

Where an employer identifies differences in pay referable to gender, they must also publish a statement outlining the reasons for any differences, and the measures being taken to reduce or eliminate such differences.

Impacted employers may also be required to report:

  • Mean and median gender pay gap for temporary employees;
  • The proportion of male and female employees in each quartile pay band;
  • Differences in pay by reference to job classifications.

Failure to report/Accurate Reporting

 If you are required to report and fail to do so, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can apply to the Circuit Court for an order requiring an impacted employer to comply. Individual employees also have the option to apply to the Workplace Relations Commission for an order requiring their employer to report.  There is also provision for designated officers to investigate a sample of employers to ensure that the information published is accurate.

What we don’t yet know 

  • The classes of employer who will be required to report (whether by reference to number of employees or otherwise) and/or those that might be excluded;
  • How to calculate the number of employees an employer has;
  • How to calculate remuneration;
  • How and when gender pay gap reports are to be communicated to impacted employees and to the public.

OFX will publish a further update once we know more.

What should Irish companies do now?

If you do not currently collect the data you will require to calculate your gender pay gap, you should start to do so now; before you can tackle any GDP, you need to know what is driving it. You will then need to identify actions that you might take to tackle your gender pay gap. The key takeaway is don’t be surprised by what you discover about your own organisation when gender pay gap reporting becomes law.

If you would like any further information on gender pay gap reporting or have any queries, you can contact Judith Curtin at jc@ofx.ie or on 021 7301314.