Senator says gender pay gap reporting is "essential to help drive down the gap"

Labour hopes legislation requiring large companies to reveal details of any pay gaps will go to the Dáil this year

Senator says gender pay gap reporting is "essential to help drive down the gap"

Senator Ivana Bacik. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A Labour senator hopes that legislation requiring large companies to reveal details of any gender pay gaps will pass through the Oireachtas this year.

It comes after a deadline passed in the UK for large companies to publish wage transparency surveys.

According to The Guardian, data received revealed almost eight out of 10 companies and public-sector bodies in the UK pay men more than women.

The hundreds of companies that didn't report before the deadline face court action, fines and potential 'naming and shaming'.

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill is expected to be put through the Seanad before the summer recess.

It would require companies with more than 50 workers to publish pay details to dermine whether there is any difference between what men and women are paid.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik says it is time for Ireland to introduce similar legislation to the UK rules.

She explained: "Our Gender Pay Gap Information Bill, if enacted, would require medium to large-sized companies to regularly publish wage transparency surveys that would highlight any difference in pay between their male and female workers.

“We believe, as we are now seeing in the UK, that by shining the spotlight on any gender based pay discrepancies, companies can address and remedy such inequalities where they exist."

She also suggested there is a general acceptance that "some form of gender pay gap reporting is essential to help drive down the gap, which still exists despite passing equal pay legislation in Ireland more than 40 years ago."

'Diagnostic tool'

Nicola Harkin is an employment law solicitor with the business lobby group IBEC.

She told Newstalk Breakfast: "We think it's more of a representation than a pay issue.

"The problem is that we don't have enough women in the senior positions within companies, and in the most highly paid positions."

She added: "There's still some serious cultural issues... there's still gender stereotyping from a really young age for kids. That feeds into career choices, subject choices that are available to young girls in schools, and that can affect the number of female graduates coming out of certain subjects."

She highlighted Australia as an example of a country where gender pay gap reporting can be used as a 'diagnostic tool' to help organisations identify where the problems lie.