The Irish government is making pay equity a priority and is looking to join the trend of other countries across the world requiring employers’ regular reporting of wages. The lower house of the Irish legislature recently published a bill that, if passed this year, would require certain employers in Ireland to report gender pay data as soon as 2020.
The lower house of the legislature of Ireland recently published the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 (the “Bill”). Under the proposed Bill, the Minister of Justice and Equality would be required to make regulations requiring employers with 50 or more employees to (1) publish gender pay data, and (2) if there are any wage gaps, publish explanations and solutions to address those wage gaps. While there is no certainty, it is expected that this Bill will likely be passed into law later this year.
Employers who are subject to the rules of the Bill would be required to publish the following gender pay data with respect to their employees:
- differences between mean and median hourly pay for men and women;
- differences between mean and median bonus pay for men and women;
- differences between mean and median hourly pay for part-time men and women;
- percentage of all men and women who received bonus pay; and
- percentage of all men and women who received benefits in kind.
To the extent that there are any differences in the gender pay data, the employer would be required to concurrently publish:
- reasons for such differences; and
- measures, if any, being taken, or proposed to be taken, to eliminate or reduce such differences.
While the Minister of Justice and Equality would have discretion to set forth the specifics related to the reports, as well as provide where the reports would be published, there is a likelihood that the UK reporting model would be followed.
Compliance with GDPR. The Bill recognizes the GDPR implications of these reporting obligations and requires employers, and any other person preparing the gender pay data for reporting, to ensure that personal data have undergone pseudonymization before or when they are published.
Enforcement measures. The Bill would provide the Circuit Court, the Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission, and the Labour Court the power to issue an employer with orders requiring compliance where either employees or the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission have reasonable grounds for believing an employer has failed to comply with the reporting obligations.
Likelihood of being implemented. Note, this is not the first time that Ireland has attempted to mandate gender pay reporting. Two similar bills were introduced in the past two years, and while they were debated in legislature, they were not passed into law. With that said, given that neighboring UK passed its mandatory gender pay gap reporting regulations in 2017, and UK employers recently had to once again report specific figures about their gender pay gap in April 2019, there is a greater possibility that the Bill may be passed this year.
Reporting as soon as 2020. If passed as currently drafted, while employers with less than 50 employees would not be subject to this new law, employers with 50-149 employees would have three years to comply with these reporting obligations — possibly reporting in 2022, and employers with 150-249 employees would have two years to comply with these reporting obligations — possibly reporting in 2021. However, if the Bill is passed into law this year, the new law would immediately apply to employers with 250 or more employees — possibly reporting in 2020. If your organization has 50 or more employees in Ireland, now is the time to start gathering relevant gender pay data and analyzing it in order to explain and publish the results, as well as to start implementing solutions to tackle any wage gaps you might have.