Wednesday 31st March 2021

Roderic O’Gorman T.D, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, yesterday received Cabinet approval to amend the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill and to introduce the strengthened Bill at Report Stage in Dáil Éireann.

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill was originally published in April 2019 and lapsed with the dissolution of the Dáil in 2020, before being restored to the Order Paper later that year.  Once implemented, the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill will require employers over a certain size to publish pay differences between female and male employees, including any bonuses. The Bill provides a regulation-making power to the Minister through which the detail of this can be specified.

The proposed Report Stage amendments will strengthen the Bill by:

  • providing a more comprehensive definition of a public body to ensure that the provisions of the Bill will apply individually to all public bodies;
  • addressing enforcement issues in the legislation, including by providing expanded power to IHREC to make an application to the High Court for an enforcement order where warranted; and
  • requiring a review of the functioning of the legislation before the 4th anniversary of its commencement.

Announcing the approval by Cabinet of the proposals Minister O’Gorman said:

I am delighted that the strengthened Gender Pay Gap Information Bill was approved by Cabinet yesterday. The Government is developing a fairer economy, and a key part of that will be continuing to close the gender pay gap. The amendments brought to Cabinet yesterday will mean that Government Departments and agencies will have to report on their own gender pay gap, and establish a stronger role in enforcement for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

We need to gain an accurate understanding of the gender pay gap to help address the root causes of the gender pay disparity between men and women. This Bill, once implemented, will bring us another step forward in achieving a more equal society for everyone.

Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, commented

This is a really positive step and one which I truly believe will be a game-changer when it comes to addressing the gender pay gap. We can’t ever have progress on this unless we’re open about the disparities that may exist. It’s important for me, as a woman, to be part of a government that is willing to address this issue head-on and one that demonstrates it is serious about the need for a fairer and more equal Ireland. This Bill goes some way to ensuring we have a country that treats people of all genders equally.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D., said

The gender pay gap is unjustified and unfair. I believe strongly in equal pay for equal work. Closing the gender pay gap was a priority for the last Government and allowed us to start work on this Bill. It’s also a priority for the new Government and I commend Minister O’Gorman for bringing these proposals to Cabinet.

Equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in Irish law for decades but the reality can be different. Women can face obstacles to promotion and can still face discrimination in companies where remuneration packages are negotiated individually. This new law will reveal any disparities that exist at workplace level. It will allow us to recognise companies that truly respect the principle of pay equality as good places to work and enable those that don’t to develop action plans to change their approach.