As noted in our newsletter earlier this year, the Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 (the “Act”) was finally signed into law on the 13th July 2021. The Act amends the Employment Equality Act 1998 and will require regulations compelling certain employers to publish information relating to the remuneration of their employees by reference to their gender. While it had been expected that the regulations (clarifying the specific reporting obligations) would be published before the end of 2021, as yet, there is no update in relation to this. However, the reporting process is expected to begin from 2022 onwards.
The gender pay gap essentially refers to the difference in the average gross hourly wage of men and women. This is not the same as the obligation to pay both genders equal pay for like work, where different pay rates may be justified in particular circumstances.
The obligations in relation to reporting will apply to all employers in both the private and public sector with employee numbers above the following thresholds:
- Year 1 : 250 or more employees
- Year 2 : 150 or more employees
- Year 3 : 50 or more employees
Employers will be obliged to report the difference in remuneration of female and male employees together with the difference between the :
- Mean and median hourly remuneration for full time and part time employees;
- Mean and median bonus remuneration;
- Percentage of all employees who have received a bonus or benefits in kind.
Under the Act, an employee may refer a compliant to the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) where it is alleged that an employer has failed to comply with their obligations. However, it should be noted that the Act does not provide for a right of compensation to the employee and further, there is no provision for monetary fines to be imposed against the employer.
Furthermore, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“IHREC”) may apply to the Circuit Court or High Court seeking an order directing am employer to comply with its obligations. The IHREC must show reasonable grounds for believing that an employer is not complying with its obligations under the Act before making an application.
Take away for employers.
In anticipation of the regulations of to be published it is prudent for employers to review and identify any gender pay gap issues that may exist within their organisation / business. Once identified, measures should be taken to narrow the gender pay gap.
Where there are differences between the male and female employees, employers will be required to publish statements setting out the reasons for the difference and the measures (if any) taken, or proposed to be taken, by those employers to eliminate or reduce such differences.
Authors – Ethna Dillon & Anne O’Connell