The Women’s Council of Ireland has said firms with 50 or more staff should report their gender pay gap - and face penalties for not fixing it.
It says addressing childcare costs is one of the most significant changes that could be made to improve gender equality.
The council was responding to calls from employer’s group IBEC for firms with 250 or more staff to report difference in salary between male and female employees.
The group said focusing on larger organisations would allow smaller firms time to learn best practice and address any ongoing issues.
Speaking today however, WCI director Orla O’Connor said the 250 threshold is too high:
“It is important that companies are transparent about their pay so that we can actually see the gap within companies,” she said.
“Companies also need to be required then to say what actions they are going to take to address it.”
“But we should certainly be starting with companies that have at least 50 employees.
“Certainly we would feel that the IBEC figure starting with companies of 250-plus employees – we would feel that is too high.”
Last week the ESRI predicted that Ireland will be close to “full” employment by the end of next year – however the country still has a low market participation - particularly when it comes to women.
While the country would not be classed as the worst in Europe, there is still a 14% gender pay gap, with men earning more on average than women.
IBEC has issued a submission to government calling for a comprehensive approach to gender pay reporting by businesses.
The group called for gender pay gap reporting to be limited to larger companies for an initial 12-month period.
The group also called for a “whole-of-society” approach to the issue, adding that refocusing on the issue of gender balance can “examine the root causes of the gender pay gap, and ultimately gain gender parity on pay in Ireland.”