The long anticipated Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 has now been signed into law by the President.
The new legislation will update equality law in Ireland and require that eligible employers publish details regarding any gender pay gap in their business.
A summary of the requirements is set out the table below:
|What is the gender pay gap?||The gender pay gap is the difference between what women in aggregate are paid, compared to men. It differs from the concept of equal pay for equal work, which has been enshrined in Irish law for some time.|
|Are all employers impacted?||
Initially applies to employers with 250+ employees.
From the second anniversary of the regulations*, it will apply to employers with 150+ employees.
From the third anniversary of the regulations*, it will apply to employers with 50+ employees.
*Note: the regulations are expected to be published at the end of 2021.
|What information must be published?||
Employers will be required to explain any differences and any measures that they have taken, or intended to take, to eliminate any difference.
|How will the obligations be enforced?||
Employees who believe their employer has not complied with the obligation to publish the above information may make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (the WRC). The WRC will decide if there is a prima facie case that would warrant an investigation. If the complaint is upheld, the WRC can order the employer to take a specified course of action to comply with the regulations. There is no mechanism for the WRC to impose a fine on the employer or to make a compensatory award to the employee.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the IHREC) are also given powers. If the IHREC has reasonable grounds to believe that an employer has failed to comply with the regulations, it can make an application to the Circuit Court or the High Court for an order to require an employer to comply. If granted, the employer will be in contempt of court if it fails to comply. The IHREC may also carry out, or invite a particular undertaking, group of undertakings or undertakings in a particular industry or sector to carry out an equality review or prepare and implement an equality action plan.
|When will the obligations start to apply?||The precise details of the reporting obligations are to be set out by regulations. It is anticipated that the regulations will be published and in force by the end of this year. Unless further lead time is prescribed by the regulations, the reporting process will likely commence in 2022. Employers are advised to commence preparatory steps for compliance with the obligations.|
At this stage, employers can begin to take steps to prepare for gender pay gap reporting. Firstly, employers should take an audit of their own pay equity. This will help to identify any gender pay gap issues by examining all employees’ rates of pay, salary, bonuses, part-time and fixed-term status, etc.
Secondly, employers should highlight any gaps and work to find the cause of such gaps.
Finally, employers should look to reduce any gaps. Once the reasons for a gender pay gap have been identified, the employer can begin to take steps to close the gap by, for example:
- promoting gender diversity at senior levels;
- introducing programmes to assist women to achieve senior roles in the organisation;
- ensuring that men are encouraged to make use of family friendly leave such as paternity leave or parental leave; and/or
- ensuring that flexible working arrangements are available for all employees throughout their progression to more senior positions.
DLA Piper’s Employment team in Ireland has extensive experience of advising clients on various diversity and inclusion issues and we are uniquely placed to advise on and assist clients with all aspects of preparing for gender pay gap reporting due to our significant experience advising on similar legislation across Europe including the UK equivalent which has been in place since 2017.
If you require further advice and assistance on preparing for gender pay gap reporting in Ireland, or you wish to read our Global Gender Pay Gap Guide, please contact Ciara McLoughlin, Alice Duffy or your usual DLA Piper Employment team contact.